Giants-Dodgers Preview

Matt Kemp tends to feast on the San Francisco Giants’

pitching.

Another slow start from Tim Lincecum may just be what the Los

Angeles Dodgers slugger needs to keep that going.

Kemp seeks another strong effort at the plate Wednesday night

when the Dodgers face the struggling Lincecum and the Giants in the

finale of this series at Chavez Ravine.

Kemp is hitting .386 with four homers and 11 RBIs over the past

20 meetings with San Francisco (15-15), including a .500 average

while connecting for four home runs and nine RBIs in 11 home

games.

That success has continued in this series, as he returned to the

lineup after tightness in his left hamstring reduced him to

pinch-hitting duties Sunday. He returned in strong fashion Monday,

collecting three hits with a walk and one run in a 9-1 victory in

the opener of this three-game set. On Tuesday, Kemp had another

base hit and an intentional walk in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat.

Manager Don Mattingly, though, isn’t ruling out resting Kemp to

make sure he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“I’m just making sure we’re smart, because it’s better not to

have him one day or two days compared to 15 or 20 days,” Mattingly

told the team’s official website. “The DL screws you up. You’re out

two weeks, that doesn’t mean you come back where you left off. You

take 10 days, it’s a mystery with what you’re going to get when he

comes back.”

Having Kemp is a big reason the Dodgers (19-11) are tied with

St. Louis for the NL’s best record. He’s among baseball’s leaders

with a .404 average, 12 homers, 27 RBIs and a 1.305 OPS.

Those numbers may only get better against Lincecum (2-2, 5.68

ERA), against whom Kemp went 7 for 14 last year.

Lincecum, though, is enduring a difficult 2012 so far, and much

of that has to do with struggles early. The hard-throwing

right-hander has surrendered 12 of 20 earned runs in the first

innings of his six starts, and opponents are hitting .370 in that

opening frame.

Those issues – along with his control problems – were prevalent

again in Friday’s 6-4 loss to Milwaukee. He allowed three runs –

all in the first – and two hits with four walks, one hit batter and

four strikeouts in five innings.

“I’m happy with the way I was able to come out of it, but giving

up three at the beginning of the game in the first inning, that’s

no way to put your team in a position to win,” Lincecum told the

team’s official website. “I definitely take a lot of responsibility

for this game, as I should.

“As starters we’re supposed to go deep into games and I really

haven’t with the exception of one game.”

Lincecum couldn’t take too much of the blame for his 0-3 record

in five starts against Los Angeles last season, as he compiled a

1.83 ERA while getting one or no runs in four of those outings and

six overall.

The Giants are hitting .209 in this series, and have been held

to two or fewer runs in four of the past five games at Dodger

Stadium.

Chad Billingsley (2-2, 3.19) will try to take advantage of those

struggling bats and re-establish his success against San Francisco.

The right-hander has won five of his last seven home starts versus

the NL West rival, compiling a 1.73 ERA. However, he was charged

with a loss in the most recent outing May 19, allowing three runs

with four walks and two hit batters in six innings.

Billingsley enters this matchup 0-2 with a 4.84 ERA in his last

four starts, surrendering four runs in six innings of Friday’s 5-4

defeat at Chicago.