The Los Angeles Dodgers have been stumbling lately, and it’s not going to get any easier.
The Dodgers try to avoid losing their fourth straight game and put an end to their interleague struggles when they open a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles (34-26) suffered a three-game sweep to San Diego, losing the finale in disappointing fashion.
The third-place Dodgers, who scored just two runs in the first two games of the series, allowed five runs in the ninth to lose 6-5 on Thursday, and drop 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Padres.
“It’s a tough loss, no doubt,” said Luis Gonzalez, who homered in the eighth to give L.A. a 5-1 lead. “But you have to keep in perspective that this is just one game in June.”
This was the first time Los Angeles was swept since the cross-town Angels swept it in an interleague series last month, outscoring the Dodgers 19-4 in those games.
Los Angeles has lost five straight interleague games dating to last season, and is only 5-22 against the AL since June 14, 2005.
Brad Penny (7-1, 2.37 ERA) takes the ball Friday, hoping a home start will help him bounce back from a rare subpar outing.
Penny didn’t allow a home run through 70 innings over his first 11 starts of the season, but gave up two on Sunday. He gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings, but the Dodgers rallied after Penny was removed to win 5-4. It was just the second time in his 12 starts Penny allowed more than three runs.
The right-hander tries to rebound at Dodger Stadium, where he has allowed one run in 19 1-3 innings over his last three starts. Penny is 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA in six starts at Dodger Stadium, with Los Angeles winning five of those games.
Penny’s only loss this season came in interleague play, though, when he was tagged for a season-high eight runs and eight hits in five innings of a 9-1 loss to the Angels on May 18. He is just 1-4 with a 5.20 ERA in seven interleague starts for the Dodgers.
Penny hasn’t faced the Blue Jays since 2001 when he was pitching for Florida. He is 1-0 in two career starts against Toronto, allowing seven runs in 9 1-3 innings in those games.
The Dodgers and Blue Jays (28-31) have split their six all-time meetings, and haven’t met since Toronto won two of three at Rogers Centre in 2004.
On Thursday, the Blue Jays allowed two runs in the ninth inning in their second straight loss 5-3 to Tampa Bay.
Alex Rios hit a two-run homer for his 14th of the season, but only four of those home runs have come on the road.
Dustin McGowan (2-2, 5.50) tries to win three straight starts for the first time in his career when he takes the hill on Friday.
After going 0-2 with a 7.17 ERA in his first four starts of the season, McGowan has allowed five runs in 14 2-3 innings in winning his last two. He gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings of a 9-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
“McGowan was awesome,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told the team’s official Web site. “They ended up getting a few runs off him, but he pitched pretty good and didn’t let any innings get away from him.”
The right-hander has struggled on the road, though, going 0-2 with a 7.47 ERA in three games away from Rogers Centre this season.
In his only career interleague start, he gave up five runs and three hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 5-3 loss at Philadelphia on May 18.