Dodgers vie for three-game sweep of D-backs (Jul 06, 2017)

BY AP • July 6, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- The starting pitchers for the Los Angeles Dodgers did not allow a run in the past two games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and another left-hander will try to maintain that streak when Rich Hill takes the mound on Thursday in the finale of the three-game series at Dodger Stadium.

Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood each threw seven shutout innings as the first-place Dodgers beat the second-place Diamondbacks 4-3 on Tuesday and 1-0 on Wednesday to extend their lead over Arizona to 4 1/2 games in the National League West.

"Guys like that, you feel really good when they take the mound," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his lefties.

Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray will make his 17th start of the season Thursday, his third against the Dodgers.

Ray (8-4, 3.06 ERA) has been one of the top strikeout pitchers in the NL this season. His 128 strikeouts are tied for third in the NL with Washington's Stephen Strasburg, behind Max Scherzer of the Nationals (163) and Kershaw (146).

Ray has been at his best since mid-May, posting a 6-1 mark with a 1.81 ERA in his past eight starts. Opponents are hitting .173 off him in that span. He has been solid on the road as well, owning a 4-1 mark and a 1.32 ERA.

Ray's performance will be key if Arizona hopes to salvage a game from the series.

"We need to make sure we can turn the page as quickly as possible and be ready for (Thursday)," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

Ray faced the Dodgers in back-to-back starts in April.

He pitched six innings and allowed two runs (one earned), but didn't receive the decision in a 4-2 victory at Dodger Stadium on April 17. Five days later, he allowed five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and qualified for the victory in an 11-5 win in Arizona.

Ray has had good success in his career against two of Los Angeles' top hitters. Corey Seager is 3-for-18 against Ray with eight strikeouts, and Justin Turner is 3-for-17 with seven strikeouts.

Seager struck out all three times against Ray in the first meeting this season and didn't start the second, pinch-hitting after Ray left the game. Seager's replacement in the starting lineup, Enrique Hernandez, homered off Ray in the first inning and could get the start again. Hernandez is 7-for-18 in his career against Ray with three home runs.

Hill (5-4, 4.00 ERA) last pitched Saturday against the San Diego Padres, going seven innings, which tied a season high, and recording a career-best 11 strikeouts while allowing only four hits in an 8-0 victory.

He threw three innings against the Diamondbacks on April 16, leaving after aggravating a blister on his left middle finger. Hill hasn't gone less than four innings since.

Arizona catcher Chris Iannetta has homered twice in seven career at-bats against Hill, but he also has struck out four times.

Lovullo is counting on more production from his top hitters.

"I believe in our offense," Lovullo said. "We've done it all year long."

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