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Red-hot Belliard returns to DC

Red-hot Belliard returns to DC

WASHINGTON -- Second baseman Ronnie Belliard was at Nationals Park for the first time since the Nats traded him to the Dodgers for two Minor League pitchers on Aug. 30.

Belliard is one of the hottest hitters for Los Angeles, which is one of the reasons he is often in the starting lineup. Belliard admitted that he did not expect to play often for the Dodgers because the team already had Orlando Hudson at second.

"I'm surprised," Belliard said. "I expected to come off the bench. Right now, I'm swinging the bat well and they have put me in the lineup."

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he had a talk with Hudson before the game on Tuesday, and Torre said Hudson understood why he is not in the starting lineup right now. Hudson is hitting .288 with nine home runs and 60 RBIs for Los Angeles.

"He understood it," Torre said. "He could not ignore how well Ronnie is swinging the bat right now. At this time of year, we need to get something done. We are going to go out there and ride the hot hand."

Entering Tuesday's action, Belliard was hitting .314 with 28 RBIs during the second half. He said playing time is the reason. Belliard did not play often until Jim Riggleman was hired as the Nationals' interim manager.

"I wasn't playing much in the first half," Belliard said. "I think the second half, Riggleman put me in the lineup to get more at-bats."

When he was with the Nationals, Belliard thought about retirement after the season, but he plans to play another season. He is expected to be a free agent after the postseason.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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