While the Dodgers may have had their six-game winning streak snapped on Friday night in a 16-1 loss to the Phillies, the team still believes its best is yet to come.
Much of that optimism comes from the fact that Los Angeles is just starting to get healthy. With Hanley Ramirez past his left hamstring issue and Matt Kemp having come off the disabled list on Tuesday, the Dodgers are finally playing with much of the team they envisioned heading into the year.
"We get to use our guys the way we designed it," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Everybody has kind of fallen into their spots. It's kind of the way we planned it coming out of Spring Training, but without [Yasiel] Puig."
Mattingly said he's also noticed the team playing with more energy and excitement during each game.
"I think momentum grows. When you start putting some wins together, guys start feeling better. This is the first time we've really sustained anything all year. Now you want to ride it as long as you possibly can because you know you can't keep this pace up," Mattingly said. "But we're capable of playing high-percentage baseball and winning at a high percentage if we get it rolling and everything stays the way it is."
It will be up to Hyun-Jin Ryu to get the Dodgers back in the win column on Saturday against the Phillies at Dodger Stadium.
Ryu is a good candidate to make that happen, having gone 4-1 with a 1.81 ERA at Chavez Ravine this season. He's also pitched at least six innings in 14 of his 15 outings this season.
On Monday against the Giants, Ryu took a no-decision, allowing one run on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.
However, Ryu will have some tough competition in Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, who's been on a roll as of late.
He's 7-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his last 10 starts, last losing on May 1 to the Indians. In that span, Lee (9-2, 2.51 ERA) has tossed at least six innings in each start and allowed three earned runs or fewer nine times.
In his last start against the Padres, Lee allowed two runs on eight hits in eight innings of work for a no-decision. He also struck out seven and walked one in a 4-3 loss for the Phillies in extra innings.
"I don't know what to say," Lee said after the game. "I felt like I pitched good and gave us a chance to win and it just didn't happen."
Phillies: Howard gets two days off
First baseman Ryan Howard was out of the starting lineup on Friday with Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano on the hill and expected to sit again Saturday.
With Howard hitless in his last 16 at-bats and the Phillies facing left-handers on Friday and Saturday, manager Charlie Manuel decided to let Howard clear his head and hopefully get back on track.
"He understands," Manuel said. "He was fine with it. We just want him to start feeling better at the plate against lefties, feeling better and seeing them better."
Howard, 33, is hitting .268 with 20 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 41 RBIs and a .789 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Dodgers: Van Slyke activated
The Dodgers activated outfielder Scott Van Slyke from the 15-day disabled list on Friday and designated infielder Luis Cruz for assignment.
Cruz was the Opening Day third baseman, but struggled offensively and hit .127 with two doubles, one home run and six RBIs in 45 games between third and shortstop.
"Luis just got caught in a box this year," Mattingly said. "He struggled early and then Juan has swung the bat pretty well. Trying to get him at-bats after that got tougher. He needed at-bats to get out of it, and he wasn't getting those, and we couldn't send him anywhere to get at-bats."
In 24 games with the Dodgers before getting left shoulder bursitis, Van Slyke hit .221 with five doubles, six homers and 11 RBIs. Mattingly said he envisions using Van Slyke in the outfield against left-handed starters and occasionally at first base to give Adrian Gonzalez a rest.
• Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford will begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday, Mattingly confirmed on Friday.
• Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander Carlos Zambrano left after two innings Friday because of what the Phillies called "serious pain" in his right shoulder.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com.` This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.