Los Angeles (46-49) at Arizona (47-48)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 9:40 pm EDT Fri Jul 18, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Sole possession of first place in the NL West has been an elusive goal for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A three-game road set against the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks could change that.

The Dodgers look to pull even with the Diamondbacks in the West race Friday night when the rivals open their series.

In Joe Torre’s first season as manager, Los Angeles (46-49) has not been in first place alone since it was 3-1 on April 4. The Dodgers gained a share of the division lead after a 2-1 win over Atlanta on July 9, but dropped three of four at home to Florida and entered the All-Star break one game behind the Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers haven’t helped themselves against Arizona either, losing four of five meetings. They were swept in a three-game series at Chase Field from April 7-9 as the Diamondbacks went on to a major league-best 20-8 opening month.

“The way they started, they manhandled us in the first series,” Torre told the Dodgers’ official Web site. “They were a very solid team. They pitched, they hit, they had speed and power, everything seemed to be firing.

“Considering how they started and how we struggled and look where we are. I’m happy to see we were able to stay in the race. We have to make sure our win streaks are longer than our losing streaks. You can’t help but watch the scoreboard, but I don’t really pay attention to them. We don’t need any help. If we don’t do it, it’s our own fault.”

Torre will give the ball to Hiroki Kuroda (5-6, 3.43), who looks to win his third consecutive decision.

The Japanese right-hander, who was on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis from June 19-July 2, has been outstanding since returning, going 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA in three starts including a one-hitter against Atlanta on July 7.

Kuroda allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3, 11-inning loss to Florida on Saturday.

Kuroda took the loss that completed the sweep at Arizona in April, yielding four runs - two earned - and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of the 4-3 defeat.

The Diamondbacks (47-48) own the worst record of any division leader, having gone 27-40 since their outstanding April.

Arizona, coming off Sunday’s 6-3 loss at Philadelphia, followed up its fast start to 2008 by going 27-40.

“I think some of the first half has been less than what we expected,” said Diamondbacks left fielder Eric Byrnes, who has a .149 average in 26 games since May 1. “But I also think we’ve shown what we’re capable of. It’s a matter of going out and playing up to the standard that we expect.”

The Diamondbacks will turn to Doug Davis (3-4, 3.80), who faces the Dodgers for the first time since beating them on April 8 - his last start before undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer.

In that meeting, the left-hander held Los Angeles to two runs and six hits in six innings.

He’s 2-3 with a 3.82 ERA in 10 starts since being activated from the DL.

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Starting Pitchers

H. Kuroda NYY vs. D. Davis KC
9-10 Record 6-8
3.73 ERA 4.32
116 K 112
42 BB 64
1.22 WHIP 1.53


Friday, Jul 18