The Los Angeles Dodgers have added two future Hall of Famers in the past three weeks to bolster their roster for a playoff push.
After falling out of first place in the NL West their last time out, the Dodgers continue their pursuit of a division title as they resume their three-game series against the Colorado Rockies Wednesday.
Los Angeles (64-61) was part of one of the biggest trades in years when it acquired 13-time All-Star Manny Ramirez from Boston at the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31. With Ramirez to add pop to the offense, the Dodgers strengthened their starting rotation with the acquisition of Greg Maddux from San Diego before Tuesday’s series-opening 8-3 loss to Colorado (58-69).
The defeat was Los Angeles’ second in eight games, dropping it one game back of NL West-leading Arizona.
This will be Maddux’s second stint with the Dodgers after going 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA in 12 starts in 2006 to help them win the wild card following a trade with the Chicago Cubs.
“It worked once. Why not again?” Derek Lowe asked on the Dodgers’ official Web site.
Maddux will take the place in the starting rotation for the injured Brad Penny, and manager Joe Torre said the four-time Cy Young Award winner will make his Dodgers debut Friday in Philadelphia.
Jeff Kent continues to benefit from Ramirez’s bat in the lineup, as he went 3-for-5 with a run-scoring double on Tuesday. Kent is batting .479 (23-for-48) with a homer, five doubles and 10 RBIs in 12 games since being moved to the No. 3 spot in the batting order ahead of Ramirez. Kent is also 10-for-24 (.417) with a triple and a double lifetime versus Wednesday’s scheduled starter Jeff Francis (3-8, 5.74 ERA).
The Dodgers counter with Chad Billingsley (12-9, 3.10), who is 3-0 with a 2.34 ERA in his last five starts, and has yielded three runs or less in 11 of his last 12.
On Friday, Billingsley allowed three runs—all in the first two innings— and five hits in seven innings of a 5-3 home win over Milwaukee. The right-hander has posted a 1.76 ERA in winning his last four starts at Dodger Stadium, and has six victories in his last seven starts there.
This will be Billingsley’s first start of the season against the Rockies after going 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA in three starts last year.
Francis won 17 games to help Colorado capture its first NL pennant last season, but he has been a major disappointment in 2008.
Francis, who spent 5 1/2 weeks on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, didn’t earn his first victory until May 18 and has not won since June 18. Last Wednesday, the left-hander gave up three runs and six hits in six innings of the Rockies’ 6-5 win over Arizona.
Francis is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this season, and 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 12 career starts.
Colorado left fielder Matt Holliday went 4-for-5 with homer and a double Tuesday, and is batting .450 (18-for-40) with three home runs, six doubles and 12 RBIs in 10 games against Los Angeles this season.
The Rockies have won four straight after dropping six of eight, and have not won five in a row since July 22-27.
Colorado has also won five of its last six over the Dodgers after losing six of their first seven meetings.
“They’re obviously better than their record indicates,” Torre said. “They have that lineup that we have trouble getting through, in the middle.”