Padres-Dodgers Preview

Not much has gone right for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the

first half of the season – on or off the field – but they have a

chance to head into the All-Star break on a positive note thanks to

some phenomenal pitching.

While attempting to post four consecutive shutouts for the

second time in team history, Los Angeles will try to record its

longest win streak this season and sweep a three-game set with the

San Diego Padres on Sunday.

The Dodgers (40-51) and owner Frank McCourt have endured some of

the franchise’s most tumultuous events recently, filing for

bankruptcy protection last month after commissioner Bud Selig

rejected a proposed TV deal with Fox. The team made another

controversial move Friday by firing former star Steve Garvey from

his marketing and community relations post, reportedly for his

attempts to buy the team.

The Dodgers have put aside distractions during three straight

wins, matching their longest run of the season, and their latest

one was perhaps the most improbable.

Los Angeles didn’t get its first hit Saturday against the Padres

until Juan Uribe’s two-out double in the ninth inning, but Dioner

Navarro followed with an RBI single to give his team a second 1-0

victory in as many games. Rafael Furcal hit the game-winning single

in the eighth inning during the series opener.

“Everybody wants to get that hit and be the guy,” Navarro said.

“We just kept telling ourselves to be patient. … I was looking

for a pitch up in the strike zone and I put some good wood on

it.”

Four Dodgers pitchers combined for a one-hitter Saturday and

gave the team three consecutive shutout wins for the first time

since July 25-27, 1991. Los Angeles has blanked four consecutive

opponents only once – from Sept. 9-11, 1966, with Hall of Famer

Sandy Koufax winning the third game of that run.

The last team to post four consecutive shutout wins was the

Baltimore Orioles, who had a run of five in a row to end the 1995

season.

The struggling Ted Lilly (5-9, 4.94 ERA) appears unlikely to

help his team continue the streak after posting an 8.71 ERA in

losing his last four starts. The veteran left-hander, though, is

coming off his most respectable outing over that stretch.

Lilly gave up three runs and six hits over six innings in

Tuesday’s 6-0 defeat to the New York Mets.

“I was a little better, but still not good enough,” he told the

Dodgers’ website.

He should be happy to see San Diego. Lilly is 2-1 with a 2.08

ERA in his last five starts against the Padres (40-51), who have

totaled six runs while losing four straight.

Saturday’s game was San Diego’s 15th shutout defeat of 2011 –

the most by any MLB team before the All-Star break since the 1969

Padres had 18.

“I’ve seen some crazy things in my nine years in the big

leagues,” second baseman Orlando Hudson said, “but that’s the way

the game goes. So what are you going to do? You just keep

playing.”

They’ll turn to a red-hot Tim Stauffer (5-5, 2.97), who is 4-1

with a 1.29 ERA in his last six starts and has claimed victories in

the last three.

The right-hander is also 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA over his last five

starts against Los Angeles. He gave up two runs in 6 2-3 innings

and struck out seven in his most recent outing at Dodger Stadium on

April 30, but did not get the decision in a 5-2 win.