The Arizona Diamondbacks look to extend both their NL West lead and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ longest losing streak of the season when the division rivals wrap up a three-game series at Chase Field on Sunday.
Arizona (88-67) beat Los Angeles 6-2 on Saturday to move 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place San Diego, which lost 6-2 to Colorado. The Diamondbacks, who have owned at least a share of first place in the West since Sept. 4, have won four straight and five of six.
“I think we’re feeling pretty good right now where we’re at,” said starter Brandon Webb, who earned his career-best 17th victory. “I think we’re playing with a lot of confidence. If we continue what we’re doing, we’re going to be all right.”
The Dodgers (79-76), meanwhile, lost their seventh straight and were officially eliminated from the division race. With seven games remaining, they are 6 1/2 games behind the Padres for the NL wild card lead.
A loss in the series finale would mean that Los Angeles could do no better than tie the Padres for the wild card.
“We’re too good of team to be getting beat like this,” said the Dodgers’ David Wells, who started on three days’ rest Saturday and gave up five runs in 4 2-3 innings. “Right now there’s no cylinders whatsoever.”
Arizona will be trying to finish off its second three-game sweep of the Dodgers this season and its first at home since Sept. 20-22, 2005.
Diamondbacks rookies Chris Young and Mark Reynolds each homered for the second night in a row Saturday. Young has five homers in 17 games against the Dodgers this season, while Reynolds has four in 10 meetings.
Young also leads all major league rookies with 32 homers, and his leadoff shot Saturday gave him nine this season, tied for fifth-most all-time.
Starter Edgar Gonzalez (8-2, 4.61 ERA) will try to help the Diamondbacks wrap up the sweep. The right-hander has allowed two runs in 11 innings in his first two starts since June 26, including last Sunday’s 6-1 win at Dodger Stadium in which he yielded one run in five innings.
“He pitched great - he gave us five innings,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said of Gonzalez, who has won seven straight decisions since a loss in San Francisco on April 21. “That’s all we could ask. You look at his record, it’s pretty indicative of how he’s pitched for us. He’s been an invaluable piece.”
Gonzalez is 4-2 with a 3.90 ERA in 10 starts this season and 4-0 with a 5.58 ERA in 20 relief appearances. However, Sunday’s victory was his first ever over the Dodgers, against whom he is 1-3 with an 8.53 ERA in six career appearances, including five starts.
He will face Chad Billingsley (11-5, 3.15), who is coming off his first loss since Aug. 13. The right-hander gave up two runs in 5 1-3 innings of Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat in the opener of a doubleheader at Colorado, after going 4-0 with a 2.13 ERA in his previous six starts.
Billingsley, who started the season in the bullpen, is 7-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 18 starts.
He is 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA in six career appearances - four starts - against the Diamondbacks, but was charged with a tough-luck 1-0 loss against them on Aug. 3 despite lasting 7 2-3 strong innings.
Billingsley and Gonzalez started opposite one another on June 26 at Chase Field, and both allowed five runs in four innings during the Dodgers’ 10-inning, 6-5 victory.