The Los Angeles Dodgers play their next six games at home against the only two teams ahead of them in the NL West. Starting a climb up the standings will be a challenge on Tuesday, however, when they meet San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy.
Peavy, the major league leader in ERA, looks to win his seventh straight decision against Los Angeles when the Padres visit Dodger Stadium for the opener of a three-game series.
Peavy (16-6, 2.43 ERA) is 8-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 17 career starts versus the Dodgers. In his last 11 outings against them, the right-hander is 6-0 with a 1.90 ERA, including 2-0 in four starts this season. Peavy’s only loss to the Dodgers was a 4-0 defeat Sept. 13, 2003.
He’ll look to extend his streak against Los Angeles while helping the Padres (77-65) inch closer to a third straight postseason appearance. San Diego, which has won consecutive NL West titles, trails division-leading Arizona but leads the wild card race.
The Dodgers (75-68) are 2 1/2 games behind the Padres entering the clubs’ final three regular-season meetings. Los Angeles, which has lost nine of 15 games against San Diego, will host Arizona for a three-game series this weekend.
“We’re in a position where we can’t give games away,” center fielder Juan Pierre said Sunday after the Dodgers gave up three eighth-inning runs to lose 4-2 at San Francisco - their second loss in three games against the last-place Giants.
“We shot ourselves in the foot this series. That makes next week even more important. Now, it’s a sub-par road trip and there’s more pressure going home. We can only blame ourselves.”
While the Dodgers went 5-5 on their road trip, the Padres are 2-4 on theirs following Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Colorado - yet another contender in the crowded NL West race.
“A loss is a loss, but at this time of year, they hurt,” catcher Michael Barrett told the Padres’ official Web site.
To rebound, San Diego will need a better effort from Peavy, who is coming off his worst start of the season. He convinced manager Bud Black to let him start Wednesday’s game against Arizona on three days’ rest, but was tagged for a career high-tying eight earned runs in just four innings of San Diego’s 9-6 loss.
“I picked a bad night to have a bad night,” said Peavy, who had only four strikeouts but still leads the NL with 210.
The Dodgers will turn to Esteban Loaiza (1-0, 3.86), who has delivered a quality start in each of his three outings since returning from a back injury that made him miss the first 4 1/2 months of the season. Loaiza started his first two games for Oakland before Los Angeles acquired him off waivers Aug. 29. He’s 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA overall this year.
The right-hander made his Dodgers debut last Monday, holding the Chicago Cubs to three runs in seven innings in an 11-3 win.
“He didn’t make very many mistakes in the middle of the plate,” Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. “I thought he did a great job, stayed aggressive throughout the whole game, and when we got the lead he was being even more aggressive and using his defense.”
Loaiza is 1-3 with a 4.41 ERA in 11 career games, including eight starts, against the Padres. He’s winless in eight games against them since 1998.
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