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James Loney sits against left-hander Clayton Richard

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 18: James Loney #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers sits in the dugout while playing against the San Francisco Giants during the baseball game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 18, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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It was only a matter of when.

James Loney has actually begun to pick up the pace with the bat this week, including a four-hit game on Tuesday, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has benched him with the Padres sending left-hander Clayton Richard to the hill tonight.

Jerry Sands, who was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque early last week, will make his first major league start at first base tonight while Marcus Thames will start in left field. Thames hasn’t started a game since April 13 due to a quad injury, but we could see this lineup more often against left-handers if he’s truly healthy.

Loney has a .255 batting average and a .684 OPS against left-handed pitching during his career compared to a .294 batting average and an .802 OPS against righties.