Los Angeles (79-74) at Arizona (86-67)

Fair Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 9:40 pm EDT Fri Sep 21, 2007
  • TV: KCAL, KTVK
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Arizona Diamondbacks still have the lead in the NL West, but not by much.

The Diamondbacks look to maintain that advantage as they try to improve their play against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of their final home series of the season Friday.

With nine games remaining, Arizona (86-67) takes a one-half game division lead over the San Diego Padres into this three-game set against the struggling Dodgers (79-74), who look to avoid matching a season high with a sixth straight loss.

The Diamondbacks were idle Thursday, but lost ground after wild-card leader San Diego beat Pittsburgh 6-3 for its seventh straight victory. It’s Arizona’s smallest lead since the two clubs were tied atop the division standings on Sept. 4.

Arizona has gone 10-4 since and held a four-game lead over San Diego on Sept. 13, but the Diamondbacks split their next six games, while the Padres have won seven of eight.

After hosting Los Angeles—which is 5-1 at Chase Field this season—the Diamondbacks play three games each at Pittsburgh and Colorado, while the Padres host the Rockies for a three-game set, then travel to San Francisco for three before finishing with a four-game series at Milwaukee.

“We’re just taking it game by game,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin told the team’s official Web site.

Chris Snyder and rookie Mark Reynolds each had three hits and combined to drive in five runs in Arizona’s 6-4 victory over San Francisco on Wednesday. The Diamondbacks won two of three in the series.

“I think there’s a lot of fight in this team,” said Melvin, whose team has an NL-worst .248 batting average, but owns the league’s best record. “One of the things we do pretty hard is we fight hard all the time throughout the game, and we have to.”

Reynolds went 7-for-14 with a homer and four RBIs in the series with San Francisco and is batting .320 (8-for-25) with two homers and six RBIs in eight games against the Dodgers.

Snyder, meanwhile, is 10-for-20 with two homers and nine RBIs in his last seven games and hit a three-run homer off Los Angeles’ Friday starter Esteban Loaiza last weekend.

Though the Diamondbacks are 48-30 at home, they’ve struggled against the Dodgers at Chase Field and are 6-9 against them overall in 2007. Los Angeles took two of three from Arizona at home last weekend.

Livan Hernandez (10-10, 4.86 ERA) will look for a better outing against the Dodgers after giving up five runs and six hits in six innings of a 6-2 loss at Los Angeles on Saturday.

“His command hasn’t been there the last couple of games,” said Melvin of Hernandez, who is 1-3 with a 4.86 ERA in his last six starts.

The right-hander is 8-13 with a 4.42 ERA lifetime against the Dodgers, and 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three starts this season.

Loaiza (1-2, 7.20), meanwhile, will make his second start straight start against the Diamondbacks. The veteran right-hander allowed three runs and the homer to Snyder for his only hit, but walked seven in 4 2-3 innings of a 6-1 loss to Arizona on Sunday.

“I always throw strikes. That’s the most important thing for me,” said Loaiza, who is 0-3 with a 5.29 ERA in six career starts against Arizona. “One hit—the home run. That’s baseball.”

Los Angeles was swept in a four-game set at Colorado after a 9-4 loss Thursday. The Rockies used the series to move ahead of the Dodgers into third place in the NL West by two games.

“These were the longest three days and four games I’ve been through,” Los Angeles manager Grady Little said.

Andre Ethier went 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs on Thursday for the Dodgers, who have been outscored 33-19 over the last five games. Ethier is batting .390 (16-for-41) with two home runs and seven RBIs against Arizona this season.

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Starting Pitchers

E. Loaiza CWS vs. L. Hernández Mil
2-4 Record 11-11
5.79 ERA 4.93
20 K 90
20 BB 79
1.50 WHIP 1.60

Scoreboard

Friday, Sep 21