Having squandered recent chances to make up ground on their
division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers hope to turn things around
while playing their next 10 games against NL East foes.
The Washington Nationals begin that stretch Friday night by
visiting Dodger Stadium, where they’ll try to hold down a Los
Angeles offense that continues to sputter.
The Dodgers (56-53) played their last 10 games against the top
two teams in the NL West. They went 3-7 against San Diego and San
Francisco, slipping eight games behind the Padres and six back of
the Giants for the wild card.
Manager Joe Torre had hoped his team’s lengthy slump was over
when Los Angeles beat the Padres 9-0 on Wednesday, but the Dodgers
were blanked for the 12th time this season in Thursday’s 5-0
Complicating matters, they’ll be without shortstop Rafael Furcal
(sore back) for the rest of this homestand, and catcher Russell
Martin (hip) for the season following recent injuries.
“We hope that we can overcome it and play well,” Torre said of
Martin’s absence. “We have two good catchers that maybe don’t give
us the offense that Russell does, but they certainly can handle the
defensive part of it.”
Offense continues to be the biggest problem. In 21 games since
the All-Star break, the Dodgers have been held to two or fewer runs
14 times, a huge reason they’ve gone 7-14.
Andre Ethier is batting .203 with 20 strikeouts in that stretch,
while team RBI leader James Loney has hit .192 with three RBIs.
The Nationals (48-61) limited Los Angeles to five runs while
taking two of three from the Dodgers in Washington from April
23-25, finishing the series with a 1-0 win.
Another pitchers’ duel could be on tap Friday with Los Angeles
sending Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 2.94 ERA) to the mound. The
left-hander was on the short end of a 2-0 loss Sunday despite
pitching seven strong innings at San Francisco.
“I had one pitch that someone did something with,” Kershaw said,
referring to Edgar Renteria’s two-run triple in the sixth. “I’m not
worried about our hitting. I’m here to put zeros up there. (Giants
right-hander Matt Cain) just put one more zero up there than I
Kershaw is unbeaten at home since May 4, going 5-0 with a 2.02
ERA in his last eight starts at Chavez Ravine. In two career home
starts against the Nationals, he is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA, although
slugger Adam Dunn is 5 for 8 with a home run and two doubles in his
career off Kershaw.
Washington’s John Lannan (2-5, 5.63) completes the matchup of
southpaws, making his second major league start since a month-long
stint with Double-A Harrisburg.
The Nationals’ opening day starter was sent down due to
ineffectiveness, but battled through five innings Sunday against
Philadelphia, allowing two runs and seven hits in Washington’s 6-4,
The Nationals began a seven-game trip by splitting a four-game
series in Arizona. They squandered a chance to win their first road
series since May 10-12 against the Mets with an 8-4 loss Thursday
night, making three errors.
“Too many nights like that early on put us we are in the
standings and we were making a lot of progress,” manager Jim
Riggleman said. “We took a step backward (Thursday).”
Ryan Zimmerman remained a bright spot for Washington with two
homers. The third baseman is 10 for 23 with four homers in his last
six games, but he is 9 for 43 (.209) with one homer in his career
at Dodger Stadium.