Dodgers-Diamondbacks Preview

The Arizona Diamondbacks have a legitimate chance of winning

their first NL West crown since 2007. If they’re going to make a

run for the title, it’s important they take care of the teams below

them in the standings.

Arizona tries to avoid its first three-game losing streak since

mid-June on Saturday night when the Los Angeles Dodgers are

expected to call up right-hander Nate Eovaldi from Double-A

Chattanooga for his major league debut.

Tied with San Francisco atop the West following Tuesday’s 6-1

victory over the Giants, the Diamondbacks lost Wednesday’s series

finale 8-1. Following an off day, Arizona (61-51) fell 7-4 to the

fourth-place Dodgers (51-60) on Friday to open a 10-game

homestand.

“You want to take advantage of every opportunity,” starter Josh

Collmenter said. “We could have got a win tonight, regardless of

what happens with the Giants (lost 9-2 to Philadelphia) we don’t

lose any ground.”

Still, Arizona could help itself by defeating West rivals Los

Angeles, Colorado and San Diego. The Diamondbacks play 24 of their

final 50 games against those clubs – they’re all under .500 – after

the Dodgers defeated them for the fourth time in 10 matchups in

2011.

Arizona tries to avoid its first 0-3 stretch since June 9-15 as

Joe Saunders (8-8, 3.56 ERA) looks to win a third straight outing.

The veteran left-hander was 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA in six July

starts.

“It was a good month. It kind of makes up for the start I had

(0-5 with a 5.48 ERA through eight starts),” Saunders said after

allowing two runs in 7 2-3 innings of Sunday’s 6-3 victory at

Dodger Stadium. “I tried to get back to even-par the best I could,

and now we can go on from here.”

Saunders, though, is 2-4 with a 4.62 ERA in 10 starts at Chase

Field in 2011.

The Dodgers, who had dropped four of five in Phoenix before

Friday, have won four of five away from Chavez Ravine. They’ll push

back ace Clayton Kershaw until Sunday’s series finale and give the

ball to Eovaldi.

The 21-year-old right-hander, an 11th-round pick in 2008, will

take the place of rookie Rubby De La Rosa, who is expected to

undergo Tommy John surgery next week.

Eovaldi had that procedure during his junior year in high

school, but according to Dodgers rookie reliever Josh Lindblom, who

was called up from Chattanooga last Friday, the young Texan has a

major league fastball and an effective slider and splitter.

“He’s super competitive and kind of a physical freak. A big,

strong kid,” Lindblom told the Dodgers’ official website. “In one

game there, (Cincinnati’s) Aroldis Chapman finished one inning

throwing a 100 mph fastball and Eovaldi started the next inning

hitting 100, too.”

Eovaldi went 6-5 with a 2.62 ERA at Chattanooga.

Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier snapped an 0-for-18 skid in

Phoenix on Friday with a first-inning single. He is 9 for 20 with a

homer lifetime against Saunders and singled four times off the

left-hander Sunday.

It was the first time a left-handed hitter had four hits against

Saunders in one game since Ethier had four singles in a 3-2 win

over Arizona on Oct. 2.

Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton, batting .397 with seven

homers and 21 RBIs in his last 16 games, was hitless in 27 straight

home at-bats against the Dodgers before Friday’s sixth-inning

triple.