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06/20/12 10:11 PM ET

Belisario a key cog to Dodgers' bullpen

OAKLAND -- The Dodgers' bullpen depth, undercut in 2010 and '11 by the unreliability of troubled reliever Ronald Belisario, has been bailed out this year by ... Belisario?

"It has been a pleasant surprise," manager Don Mattingly said of the right-hander, who is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in 21 games.

"He's been really good and been a good citizen, no issues of any kind," said Mattingly. "He's been great. We've had injuries to Javy Guerra and Matt Guerrier for extended times, and Belly has given us a late-inning guy. He came in early in the year and we figured to use him in the sixth and seventh, but he's worked his way toward the end of the game. He's been solid. A nice surprise."

Belisario, who started his season late after he served a 25-game suspension for a positive cocaine test in 2010, has evolved into sharing setup duties with Josh Lindblom. Belisario has held opposing hitters to a .129 average, hasn't allowed any of the four inherited runners to score and has retired 17 of 21 first batters faced.

Belisario said he's even more focused on throwing strikes over the last two weeks as he's begun wearing prescription glasses while he pitches.

Gordon gets some tutelage from Henderson

OAKLAND -- If Dee Gordon does not evolve into an elite Major League basestealer, it won't be for lack of mentors.

He's already been tutored by the likes of basestealing legends Maury Wills and Davey Lopes. This week Gordon met the self-proclaimed greatest of all time, Rickey Henderson, who has no official role with the A's but suits up and hangs out as he chooses.

"We had a nice conversation," said Gordon. "Oh my God, the man knows stealing. A lot of it is what I've heard from Maury and Davey. These are guys that are the best at what they do and each one does it a little bit different. Not really a different meaning, but a different voice and a different view."

  • 142 wins
  • 110 wins

Gordon said as soon as he saw Henderson on the field Tuesday he went up to him, unescorted, and introduced himself. Gordon said he never mentioned his famous father, former pitcher Tom Gordon, nor did Henderson.

Did Gordon see Henderson, who is 53, play?

"I had gone to see my uncle, Clyde [Pork Chop] Pough, play in independent league for Nashua [in 2003], and Rickey was playing against him for Newark," Gordon said. "That's crazy, huh?"

Henderson finished his Hall of Fame career playing briefly for the Dodgers in 2003.

Kershaw looks to bounce back against A's

OAKLAND -- Clayton Kershaw gets a shot at a bounce-back start Thursday when the Dodgers conclude their series with the A's.

Kershaw allowed five runs (four earned) on a season-high-tying eight hits in a six-inning no-decision against the White Sox on Friday.

Kershaw has been battling plantar fasciitis in his left foot, although he's insisted the painful condition doesn't bother him pitching. Two weeks ago, the southpaw briefly eliminated between-starts running for conditioning, but he has since resumed the activity.

"He has to keep dealing with it," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's had to modify his workout so it doesn't get worse. He said he doesn't feel it pitching or pushing off [the rubber], but he's changed his routine a little and that sometimes can affect you. It sounds like it's no better, no worse. It's not like it's going away."

The defending National League Cy Young Award winner is 5-3 with a 2.86 ERA. After winning the pitching Triple Crown (wins, ERA and strikeouts) last year, the only category in which he ranks in the top 10 is strikeouts (88 for eighth).

The number that really stands out is 10 homers allowed in 94 1/3 innings, including two to Adam Dunn and Carlos Rios on Friday night. In 233 1/3 frames last year, Kershaw allowed only 15 homers. Left-handed hitters have four homers this year compared to three all last year.

Since pitching a May 19 shutout against the Cardinals, Kershaw has allowed 17 runs in 32 2/3 innings (4.68 ERA).

Mattingly weighs in on pine tar, cheating

OAKLAND -- Manager Don Mattingly started squirming when asked to weigh in on the spat between Rays manager Joe Maddon and Nationals skipper Davey Johnson in the wake of Tuesday night's pine tar ejection.

Mattingly did, however, weigh in on the issue of pine tar and cheating.

"Personally, the way I look at pine tar, a lot of guys use some form to get a better grip," said Mattingly. "There's a difference in that and doctoring a ball or scraping it or using sandpaper."

Mattingly played a supporting role in the all-time pine tar controversy, George Brett's pine tar home run in 1983 against Mattingly's Yankees. When that protested game was resumed, Mattingly played second base, only the second left-hander to play a middle infield position since 1970.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.