The Los Angeles Dodgers have been able to stay in the NL playoff race because of their strong pitching.
The staff will be put to the test, however, when Los Angeles visits the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
The Dodgers trail Florida and Philadelphia by three games in the tight race for the NL wild card, but Los Angeles is coming off a series against the Houston Astros in which it was outhit and uncharacteristically outpitched.
Los Angeles dropped two of the three meetings, allowing 19 runs and scoring seven. The Dodgers, who lead the majors with a 3.12 ERA, came into the series after posting consecutive shutouts over Colorado last weekend.
The Dodgers are last in the NL in hitting with a .240 batting average and have scored a major league-low 480 runs.
“When we dig holes for ourselves in the early part of the game, there’s not been too many times I’ve sat here and talked about comebacks,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.
Los Angeles allowed just four runs in a three-game sweep of Colorado last weekend at Dodger Stadium, but now it has to contend with the Rockies at Coors Field.
Colorado has lost 10 straight on the road, but the Rockies are returning home, where they are 45-24 this season.
The Rockies went 0-5 against the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants on their five-game trip, and have dropped nine of their last 10 overall.
“We’re not pitching the way we were, and we’re not swinging the bats the way we were,” Colorado outfielder Jay Payton said. “We’re just not playing good baseball now. That’s the way we’re steamrolling right now, downward.”
Colorado is 5-1 against Los Angeles at Coors Field this season, outscoring the Dodgers 40-26 in those contests.
STANDINGS: Dodgers - 2nd place, 13 GB, NL West. Rockies - 4th place, 21 1/2 GB, NL West.
DODGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Kazuhisa Ishii (9-5, 3.21 ERA). The left-hander is making his second start after missing a month with a sprained left knee. His first start was against Colorado last Saturday, and he allowed three hits in five innings, but he didn’t receive a decision in the Dodgers’ 5-0 win. Ishii’s last victory was against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 18.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Denny Stark (2-3, 6.00 ERA). The right-hander opposed Ishii in Los Angeles on Saturday and gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings for his third loss in four outings. Stark has allowed four or more earned runs in five of his last seven starts, going 1-3 with a 7.78 ERA in that span.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Dodgers - Paul Lo Duca, .285 avg.; Jeromy Burnitz, 26 HRs and 68 RBIs; Shawn Green, 71 runs; Dave Roberts, 36 SBs. Rockies - Todd Helton, .352 avg. and 119 runs; Preston Wilson, 32 HRs, 126 RBIs and 10 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Dodgers, 9-7.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Dodgers - LHP Ishii is 1-2 with a 4.29 ERA in four starts against Colorado this season. … OF Burnitz has six RBIs in his last five games. … OF Roberts’ 36 stolen bases are the second-most in the NL. He stole a career-high 45 bases last season. Rockies - RHP Stark has a 6.97 ERA in six appearances at Coors Field this season. … OF Wilson, who leads the NL with 126 RBIs, has failed to drive in a run in nine of his last 10 games. … 1B Helton is batting .396 at home this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Dodgers - 31-35 on the road; Rockies - 45-24 at home.
INJURIES: Dodgers - OF Brian Jordan (knee), 60-day DL; LHP Troy Brohawn (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Darren Dreifort (knee), 60-day DL; LHP Derek Thompson (elbow), 60-day DL. Rockies - C Bobby Estalella (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Shawn Chacon (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Denny Neagle (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Chin-hui Tsao (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Chris Richard (shoulder), 60-day DL.