STL@LAD: Kemp reacts to being removed from the game

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are not giving up on Matt Kemp, even though he was held out of the starting lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals, and was pulled from Saturday's game in a double-switch in the top of the seventh inning.

Kemp entered Sunday's game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning and hit into an inning-ending double play.

While Kemp is hitting .260 with just two home runs in 48 games and was visibly upset Saturday when manager Don Mattingly removed him from the game in favor of Skip Schumaker, the organization knows it won't reach its lofty goals without the star center fielder.

"I think we just stay with him, show confidence in him that he's going to come out of it," Mattingly said before Sunday's game.

So why did Mattingly choose to exclude Kemp from Sunday's lineup in favor of Schumaker?

"Today, Matt not playing is the best thing for him, it's the best thing for us," Mattingly said. "For him to be having struggles and being frustrated is not good for a guy. It seems like the timing is kind of right."

Kemp has maintained that offseason surgery on his left shoulder is not to blame for his slow start and lack of power, but Mattingly thinks the All-Star could have picked up some bad habits with his swing while playing through the injury last season.

"It doesn't seem like he's hurting anywhere, and if he's wincing and playing in pain, he's not telling anybody," Mattingly said.

The Dodgers medical staff has limited Kemp in the weight room, but might soon allow him to do more to strengthen his shoulder.

"They've held him back for sure from doing certain things, and I think they're getting to a point where they may let him do some more of that," Mattingly said. "There has been talk about allowing him to start doing a little bit more weight training, allowing him to do some things that he hasn't been able to do."

And the Dodgers say they aren't considering sending Kemp to the disabled list to give him time to get right.

"I haven't heard that at all," Mattingly said. "I wouldn't really think Matt would want that at all."

Lilly gives Dodgers' rotation much-needed boost

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers left-hander Ted Lilly looked good in his return from the disabled list on Saturday, a positive sign for a rotation that has been ravaged by injuries.

Lilly allowed just two hits and two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings against the Cardinals, the team with the best record in the National League (31-17). The veteran left the game with the Dodgers ahead, 3-1, but settled for a no-decision in his first start since April 29.

"I haven't logged too many innings, so I'm still trying to feel my way through," Lilly said.

While Lilly gave the Dodgers exactly what they wanted, he still sees room for improvement.

"I think my timing was a little in and out," Lilly said. "I wasn't all over the place, but my command wasn't as good I would like it to be. I still have a ways to go, as far as sharpness. I missed out over the plate quite a bit. Fortunately, I got away with it. But with that said, I think it's best I've thrown the ball in a long time, too."

Lilly allowed an unearned run in the first inning and loaded the bases with two outs before settling in and retiring 14 Cardinals in a row.

Lilly was removed after walking Matt Holliday with one out in the sixth and left the mound to a standing ovation. It was quite the turnaround form his previous home start in April, when he pitched through a rib injury and gave up five runs in three innings against Colorado.

Van Slyke dealing with stiff neck

STL@LAD: Molina lines run-scoring double to left

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke is dealing with a stiff neck after his attempted diving catch of Yadier Molina's double in Saturday's Dodgers win over St. Louis.

Van Slyke's uncertain status is one of the reasons the Dodgers delayed activating Jerry Hairston off the disabled list on Sunday. The club wants to see if Van Slyke's injury improves or requires disabling. Hairston can play the infield or outfield.

Van Slyke said he didn't think the disabled list would be necessary and that he could play if needed Sunday against the Cardinals.

"I wouldn't say it hurts, but it definitely tightened up," Van Slyke said. "If [manager Don Mattingly] needed me, I'd be able to play, but we just don't want to make it worse than it already is."

Van Slyke, playing left field, said his knee slammed into the turf as he reached for the ball, throwing his body weight to the left. He wound up with what he described as whiplash.

"If my knee didn't stick in the ground, I think I catch it," he said.

Van Slyke stayed in the game, but said moderate stiffness worsened overnight and he walked stiffly in the clubhouse on Sunday. Van Slyke said he can move his head from right to left, but not left to right.

Van Slyke has given the Dodgers some much-needed right-handed power since his May 10 promotion from Triple-A, after being taken off the 40-man roster over the winter.

Worth noting

• Hanley Ramirez ran sprints in the outfield at Dodger Stadium on Sunday afternoon to test his strained left hamstring, and Mattingly said the shortstop could begin a Minor League rehab assignment in a week.

• Mattingly said Josh Beckett, on the disabled list with a strained left groin, threw off a mound and "felt a little something," but believes the right-hander is "moving in the right direction".

• Dodgers left-hander Scott Elbert faced one batter for Double-A Chattanooga on Sunday, recording a flyout on four pitches, after tossing a scoreless inning on Saturday. The club wanted to see how his surgically repaired elbow responded to pitching on consecutive days, which Elbert hadn't done since he began a rehab assignment on May 10.