The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants had already been eliminated from playoff contention entering their season-ending three-game series this weekend. The Dodgers, though, have found a way to make this series meaningful.
In Sunday’s season finale, the Dodgers look to sweep the Giants in a three-game series for the third time this season—a feat they haven’t accomplished since the teams moved from New York before the 1958 campaign.
The Dodgers (82-79) swept three-game series in San Francisco April 6-8 and July 13-15, and can complete their third sweep with a home win on Sunday.
They’re in position to sweep thanks to Luis Gonzalez’s walk-off RBI single in the 10th inning on Saturday. The hit plated Andy LaRoche from second base to give Los Angeles a 6-5 victory—the Dodgers’ second consecutive win after losing 10 of their previous 11 games.
It was the fourth straight loss and the 12th in 16 games for San Francisco (70-91).
Los Angeles has a 10-7 edge in the season series, but the Dodgers are just 3-5 against the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
The Giants will again be without Barry Bonds, who played his last game as a Giant in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Without their top slugger, the Giants will try to avoid the sweep by sending their biggest offseason acquisition to the mound. Barry Zito, however, hasn’t pitched like someone worth the seven-year, $126 million contract he signed to join the team last winter.
After seven seasons with Oakland that included a Cy Young Award and three All-Star selections, Zito (10-13, 4.63 ERA) hasn’t fared well in his first season west of San Francisco Bay. The left-hander will have his first losing campaign while recording his lowest win total in a full season. He’s also on pace for the highest ERA of his career—his previous high was 4.48 in 2004.
Zito allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings against San Diego on Monday, but got the decision in San Francisco’s 9-4 victory. The Giants’ offensive outburst helped Zito to his first win in seven starts since Aug. 17.
“The boys picked me up big tonight,” he told the Giants’ official Web site. “I’m glad they came out swinging.”
On Sunday, he’ll look to win back-to-back starts for the first time since a three-start win streak May 23-June 4. He’s 2-2 with a 4.68 ERA in five career starts against the Dodgers, including 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA in three outings against them this season.
Los Angeles will counter with Eric Stults (1-3, 4.93), who pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings of relief in the Dodgers’ 10-4 loss to Colorado on Thursday. The left-hander is 1-2 with a 4.22 ERA in four starts.
Stults has made one career start against San Francisco—in Los Angeles’ season finale Oct. 1 of last year. He allowed three runs—two earned—in five innings of the Dodgers’ 4-3 victory.