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Thu, Sep 1, 2011 - 4:05 PM ET
 

Dodgers-Pirates Preview

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Whether or not Matt Kemp's MVP-type numbers will end up earning him the award remains to be seen, but his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates seem to have caught up to his level of play.

Los Angeles seeks its ninth win in 10 tries when it visits the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates for a make-up game Thursday afternoon.

With the Dodgers (65-70) out of the playoff race, Kemp quietly is among the NL leaders in the triple crown categories. He ranks in the top five in batting average (.320) and is tied for second in home runs (31) and RBIs (102).

Kemp drove in a run in Wednesday's 4-2 victory over San Diego to set a career high, and his .349 average over his last 11 games has helped Los Angeles during its offensive surge.

James Loney is hitting .476 with four homers over his last 10 games, and Andre Ethier is 9 for 16 over his last five.

The Dodgers are averaging 6.6 runs while winning eight of nine.

''Everything we've been doing all year long we're still doing,'' manager Don Mattingly said. ''The biggest difference is offensively we've been able to put up some runs and our confidence has grown. Guys have really continued to get after it every day. We've played good defense and we've pitched well, which tells you where you're at as a club.''

While their offense has been consistent, the Dodgers have yet to see Thursday's starting pitcher this season.

Former Pirate Dana Eveland will make his season debut after going 12-8 with a 4.38 ERA for Triple-A Albuquerque. The journeyman left-hander has made 54 starts for five teams since 2005. His last start came July 7, 2010, when he allowed three runs in five innings of a loss to the Chicago Cubs while with Pittsburgh.

Eveland will face his former team, which has lost four straight and six of seven after being swept by major league-worst Houston, culminating with a 2-0 loss Wednesday.

The Pirates (62-74) mustered six runs and 13 hits in the three-game series.

Andrew McCutchen's only two hits in the set were home runs to account for three RBIs, though he went 0 for 3 on Wednesday. He hit two solo homers May 10 in Pittsburgh's 10-3 loss to the Dodgers.

The Pirates hope scheduled starter Brad Lincoln (1-0, 3.42) can provide a lift.

Lincoln will be making his fourth start of the season after going 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his first three. He's pitched six innings in each outing and didn't allow a run in picking up his first victory this year at St. Louis on Saturday.

The right-hander went 1-4 with a 6.57 ERA in nine starts for the Pirates last season.

''You've got to have confidence going out there and you've got to believe in your stuff and what got you here and what makes you who you are,'' Lincoln said. ''You've just got to go out there and attack and be who you are and don't let anybody dictate what you can do.''

Thursday's matchup was originally scheduled for May 12, but the game was postponed.

Los Angeles has won five of the last six meetings.

Tagged: Dodgers, Pirates, Matt Kemp, Brad Lincoln

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