Tony Gwynn & Jeff Passan: New-look Dodgers are legit
Los Angeles (30-23) activated Gagne on Tuesday but he had to serve a two-game suspension imposed by Major League Baseball for violating the terms of a previous penalty.
Gagne, who saved a major league record 84 consecutive games from Aug. 28, 2002-July 3, 2004, had surgery on April 7 to remove a nerve from his right elbow and hasn’t pitched for the Dodgers since last June 12.
“My arm felt great,” Gagne said after throwing a scoreless inning for Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday. “I feel confident. I’ll be ready for Thursday. You get mentally ready and bounce back in the big leagues.”
A near-unanimous winner of the NL Cy Young Award in 2003, Gagne saved 152 games from 2002-04 and was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and eight saves in as many opportunities last year before a season-ending operation on June 24.
Los Angeles is a half-game behind first-place Arizona in the NL West, and is returning home after splitting a six-game road trip with a 9-3 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday.
The Dodgers have won a season-high six straight at home, and have outscored their opponents 28-3 in their last four games there. Los Angeles has won 11 of its last 12 overall at Dodger Stadium and finished May 11-3 at home—its best record in the month since going 12-1 in 1993.
Derek Lowe (3-3, 2.90 ERA) will be looking for his third straight victory when he takes the mound for Los Angeles on Thursday. The right-hander allowed one run and five hits over seven innings in a 3-1 win at Washington on Saturday.
Lowe has allowed one run in his last 14 innings, and has given up two or fewer runs in seven of his 11 starts this season. He faced Philadelphia (27-25) on April 9, but didn’t receive a decision after allowing two runs and four hits in six innings of Los Angeles’ 6-3 loss.
The Dodgers took two of three from the Phillies in that series, but have lost five of their last seven against Philadelphia at Dodger Stadium.
The Phillies have gone 5-10 since May 16 to fall five games behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East. Philadelphia lost 3-2 to Washington on Wednesday, its seventh straight defeat in one-run games and 11th in 18 such contests this season.
“I look at that, and I told somebody if we could just win half of those games, we’d be in first place,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Gavin Floyd (4-2, 6.62) looks to win his fourth straight decision when he starts for Philadelphia on Thursday. The right-hander, though, hasn’t earned a decision in his last three starts since beating the Mets 2-0 on May 11.
Floyd has a 9.82 ERA in his last three outings, allowing at least five runs in each game. He lost 5-3 to Los Angeles on April 7, when he allowed five runs and six hits in 2 2-3 innings.
Ryan Howard led the majors with 13 homers and 35 RBIs in May, but is just 1-for-11 in his last three games for Philadelphia. Bobby Abreu is 2-for-14 in his last four games, but is 9-for-21 (.429) with two homers and eight RBIs in his last six contests against the Dodgers.