Already enjoying his best season in four years, Kevin Brown looks to help Los Angeles inch closer to a playoff berth as the Dodgers open a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.
The veteran right-hander secured his 14th victory—his highest win total since 1999—with Saturday’s 4-0 win over San Diego in which he combined with two relievers on a six-hitter. Brown scattered six hits over seven innings, striking out nine and walking two.
Brown hasn’t won more than 13 games since ’99, his first season with the Dodgers in which he recorded his second consecutive 18-win season. Since then, he has been on the disabled list seven times and is 40-22 in 92 starts with a 2.75 ERA during that stretch.
In addition to a resurgent season, Brown is looking to snap his personal postseason drought and that of the Dodgers.
Brown, who set a Padres single-season record with 257 strikeouts in 1998, hasn’t pitched in the postseason since the ’98 World Series—when he lost to the New York Yankees in Game 4 to complete a sweep of San Diego.
Los Angeles hasn’t been in the postseason since 1996 when it won the wild card but was swept by Atlanta in the division series.
The Dodgers took another step toward ending that drought with Thursday’s 2-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Wilson Alvarez and Eric Gagne combined on a seven-hitter, and Robin Ventura homered for Los Angeles, which has won nine of 13.
The Dodgers pulled to within 2 1/2 games of NL wild card-leading Florida, which lost 5-4 to Philadelphia on Thursday.
The Giants’ four-game win streak was snapped with Thursday’s 7-3 loss to San Diego, as the Padres sidestepped a four-game sweep.
However, San Francisco was playing without most of its regulars. The Giants clinched the NL West title Wednesday and manager Felipe Alou gave them a day off following a night of celebrating.
STANDINGS: Giants - 1st place, NL West. Dodgers - 2nd place, 12 GB, NL West.
GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Dustin Hermanson (2-3, 4.01 ERA). After getting designated for assignment by the St. Louis Cardinals on June 18, Hermanson was singed by the Giants and sent to Triple-A Fresno. He was promoted to the majors on Aug. 3 and is 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA in his seven appearances with San Francisco. The right-handed journeyman hasn’t started since San Francisco’s 3-2 win over Florida on Aug. 23, in which he didn’t receive a decision despite allowing just two runs—one earned—and six hits over 5 1-4 innings. Hermanson is 3-5 with a 4.03 ERA in 13 career appearances against the Dodgers, including eight starts.
DODGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Brown (14-8, 2.35 ERA). Brown is 9-4 with a 3.15 ERA and five complete games, including three shutouts, in 17 career starts against the Giants.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Giants - Barry Bonds, .340 avg., 43 HRs, 86 RBIs and 105 runs; Eric Young, 25 SBs. Dodgers - Paul Lo Duca, .279 avg.; Jeromy Burnitz, 29 HRs; Shawn Green and Adrian Beltre, 76 RBIs; Green, 79 runs; Dave Roberts, 39 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Giants, 8-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Giants - OF Bonds is hitting .333 in 27 career at-bats against RHP Brown with one double, two homers and nine RBIs. … OF Bonds needs just four home runs to tie his godfather Willie Mays (660) for third on all-time list. … Backup 1B Andres Galarraga said he isn’t necessarily ready to retire just yet. He is hitting .300 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs in his 19th season in the majors and needs three homers to reach 400. Dodgers - OF Green is hitting .538 with three homers and four RBIs in 13 career at-bats against RHP Hermanson. … RHP Gagne got the first two-inning save of his career—his 52nd consecutive save this season. He has converted a major league-record 60 in a row dating to Aug. 28, 2002. … The Dodgers began Thursday 3 1/2 games behind Florida in the wild-card race. In 1965, they were 3 1/2 behind San Francisco on Sept. 18 and went on to win 11 straight and 13 of their final 14 games to clinch the pennant by two games. The Dodgers beat Minnesota in seven games to win the World Series.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Giants - 39-35 on the road; Dodgers - 45-33 at home.
INJURIES: Giants - RHP Jesse Foppert (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 60-day DL. Dodgers - OF Brian Jordan (knee), 60-day DL; LHP Troy Brohawn (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Darren Dreifort (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Alfredo Gonzalez (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Derek Thompson (elbow), 60-day DL.