James Loney is on fire ever since the Dodgers asked him to warm up as a pitcher

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It took six months, but James Loney is finally hitting.

Actually, maybe all it took was for the Dodgers to have him warm up in the bullpen as an emergency pitching option. Since that happened on August 21 he’s 18-for-35 (.514) with four homers and five doubles, which is pretty amazing considering Loney hit .254 with a grand total of five homers in the 123 previous games.

Loney’s overall numbers remain terrible for a first baseman, as his OPS is a career-low .709 and he’s managed just 28 extra-base hits and 32 walks in 471 plate appearances.

He’s on track to finish with a sub-.400 slugging percentage for the third straight season and if the Dodgers are smart they won’t let any late-season hot streaks talk them into keeping Loney around for another year. If he isn’t non-tendered Loney will make at least $5 million in 2012 via arbitration.

Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord

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John Wisely of the Detroit Free Press reports that current free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord for damage to the rented property as well as missing artwork. The landlord is asking for $80,000 after having kept Rodriguez’s $15,000 security deposit.

The lawsuit says that Rodriguez damaged a bedroom TV, a crystal floor lamp, glass shelves in the bar, glass tiles in the master bath, and a Moroccan mirror in the powder room. Additionally, the suit claims that the bedding is stained and paint has chipped, as well as other damages. And the piece of art that is allegedly missing, which depicts a tiger, is valued at more than $10,000.

Rodriguez has not yet been served with the suit, but the landlord has been speaking to his managers.

The Nationals released Rodriguez, 35, two weeks ago after having signed him to a minor league contract in late June. He started the season with the Tigers, but struggled to a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 innings before being released.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.