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04/22/12 2:50 PM ET

Day after homer, Loney out vs. lefty Wandy

Except for Kemp, players to get occasional day off

HOUSTON -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly gave left-handed-hitting first baseman James Loney the day off Sunday, despite the fact that Loney hit his first home run of the season in Saturday night's 5-1 win over the Astros.

"This is a little bit more of a matchup," Mattingly said of the Dodgers facing Houston left-hander Wandy Rodriguez. "James is like 3-for-17 off Wandy. Obviously, he isn't seeing him that good. Today is a little more of a right-handed lineup for us.

"And a little bit is continuing for James getting rolling. Looking at projected starters over the next three weeks, there's a lot of right-handers in there. He's swinging the bat better."

Mattingly believes in using his entire 25-man roster and rotating days off for his regulars.

But the one player who can stay in the lineup as long as he wants is outfielder Matt Kemp, who leads the National League in hits, runs, homers and batting average entering Sunday.

"Matt doesn't want a day off," Mattingly said. "Matt's played in how many straight. I've tried to say, 'If you need a day.' And he'll say, 'I'll let you know.' And he never lets me know. He pretty much wants to go every day. What I'll do with Matt is get him out of the game if we get one of those games that's out of hand."

Kemp has played in 381 consecutive games.

"He doesn't ever look like he needs a day [off]," Mattingly said. "But there's got to be days, those trips where you get in at 3 in the morning and you've got a game that night. I know those are rough days for guys. Especially for a guy who is playing 162. And maybe he's not swinging the bat great and you know mentally he's getting worn down. But he doesn't want it and seems to handle it fine. There's no reason to force one."

Mattingly's biggest concern is players getting injured.

"Guys just keep going, thinking they're going to get through it," he said. "I did it myself. 'I'll be all right.' You keep going and going and you end up missing two weeks. We're all hard headed. You run a marathon and things hurt all the time and you go, 'I'll be all right. I'll work through it.' Next thing you know you need knee surgery. You've got to listen to your body, and sometimes [players] don't."

Mattingly also values the opinion of left-handed-hitting outfielder Andre Ethier, his other hot hitter.

Kemp and Ethier have combined for 43 RBIs, which tied the Major League record after 15 games set by Alex Rodriguez and Bobby Abreu with the Yankees in 2007.

"I want to pick some left-handers to give [Ethier] a breather," Mattingly said. "I'm going to listen to Andre. [He] knows if he doesn't see a lefty good, he knows that a matchup is not good for him. He knows if a guy gives him trouble.

"These two are on a record pace. I don't want to break momentum for those two guys.

After three-hit night, Gordon back in lineup

HOUSTON -- Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon admitted the flaw. He said he gets upset when manager Don Mattingly tells him he won't be playing the next day.

"It's very true," Gordon said. "I wish I wasn't like that, [but] I love to play the game. I want to be in there every day."

Gordon, who turned 24 and was in the lineup on Sunday, couldn't complain too much, being the starting shortstop at his age for the team that leads the National League West by 4 1/2 games.

"I'm definitely blessed to be here," he said. "I thank God for the opportunity He's given me. I'm going to go out and play hard."

Mattingly did not write Gordon's name in the starting lineup Friday night, replacing him with Justin Sellers. It appeared the move paid off when Gordon returned to his leadoff position Saturday night and went 3-for-4.

Gordon singled to open the game. After grounding into a double play in the third inning -- his first of the season -- he dropped a bunt single in the sixth that led to a run, and doubled and scored in the eighth in the Dodgers' 5-1 win over the Astros.

"It means we won," said Gordon, deflecting any personal glory despite his impressive night at the plate. "Just trying to win baseball games, that's it. We've been playing pretty good without me having much production. I'm just trying to help."

Saturday night's three hits raised Gordon's batting average to .232.

Batting leadoff, Gordon probably needs to draw more walks. He walked five times in the Dodgers' first 15 games. But he has already stolen eight bases, second in the National League entering Sunday's game, in 11 attempts.

The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Gordon is best known for his speed. When Houston's Kyle Weiland threw wildly trying to pick Gordon off first base Saturday night, he raced all the way to third.

"Some guys get labeled for what they do best," Gordon said. "Hopefully, by the end, people will talk about what kind of all-around player I was."

Gordon grew up in Windemere, Fla., the son of former Major Leaguer and well-traveled reliever Tom Gordon, who now runs an AAU baseball program and coaches Dee's 16-year-old brother Nicholas, another infielder.

Going from a small town to Los Angeles didn't change Gordon.

"I'm very family oriented," he said. "I keep to myself. I stay out of the Hollywood stuff."

The Dodgers selected him in the fourth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

"I wanted to be in the Major Leagues the day I signed," he said. "But I wasn't ready. I'm blessed to be here."

Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.