51s hoping to remain a hit at home

Despite being mired in last place in their division most of the year, the 51s had been shut out only once all season before getting blanked three times in the final six games of their recent eight-game road trip.

Las Vegas (55-63), which opens a four-game homestand against the first-place Sacramento River Cats (68-51) tonight at Cashman Field, was held scoreless in back-to-back losses at Omaha (2-0 and 9-0) on Aug. 3 and 4 and was shut out by Iowa 5-0 on Wednesday.

The team finished 2-6 on the road trip.

"We went into Omaha swinging the bats pretty well, and we could not score," 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy said Thursday. "That's been uncharacteristic of this team the last two months, but we didn't swing the bats."

The 51s are tied for third in the Pacific Coast League in hitting with a .293 batting average. Now, they're back home, where they went 15-3 before heading out on the road.

"The home cooking has been good to us lately, and hopefully we'll be able to continue that trend and move on," Bundy said.

The 51s' recent slide coincided with the loss of leading hitter Delwyn Young, who was called up to the parent Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31 and went 4-for-4 in Thursday's 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Young is batting .545 (6-for-11) with a double and a run scored in seven games with the Dodgers. He still leads the PCL in doubles (44) and runs scored (89) and is second in the league in hits (139) and third in batting (.343). The outfielder also has 16 home runs and 79 RBIs for the 51s.

Third baseman Andy LaRoche, another of the Dodgers' top prospects, probably is headed for the disabled list after his back flared up twice on the road trip. He left the team to travel to Los Angeles for an MRI exam, and Bundy said he doesn't expect LaRoche to play in the Sacramento series.

"He's had a recurring problem with his back," Bundy said. "We need to find out what it is."

LaRoche is batting .306 with 16 homers and 43 RBIs in 65 games with Las Vegas.

Infielder Tony Abreu also left the team this week to travel to Los Angeles for tests on an undetermined injury. Abreu hit .347 in 39 games with the 51s early this year and batted .288 in 43 games with the Dodgers but hasn't played since being optioned to Las Vegas on July 19.

"He has an injury somewhere near his stomach area," Bundy said. "We're not sure whether it's a sports hernia or something else."

His team trails the River Cats by 12 1/2 games with 26 to play, and Bundy has his sights set on climbing out of the cellar in the Pacific Conference's Southern Division.

"Realistically, we don't have any chance of catching (Sacramento), but we have a chance to maybe catch Fresno (62-57) or Tucson (62-55) and make it kind of interesting," Bundy said.