Los Angeles (65-68) at Washington (48-85)

Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Thu Aug 28, 2008
  • TV: PRIME, MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Los Angeles Dodgers had hoped a three-game series against the last-place Washington Nationals would help them find an end to a sluggish stretch.

That hasn’t happened, and on Thursday night the punchless Dodgers hope to avoid a seventh straight loss and a three-game sweep at the hands of the Nationals.

The Dodgers (65-68) entered this series after getting swept in four games at Philadelphia. They followed that up Tuesday by losing 2-1 to NL-worst Washington (48-85) before falling 5-4 the next night for a season-high six-game slide. Prior to this three-game set, Los Angeles had won 11 of the previous 12 matchups with the Nationals.

“I’m getting real tired of it, as is everybody,” Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake said. “You play this game long enough and you know teams are going to hit skids like this, it’s just part of the game. But it’s still frustrating to go through it.”

The Dodgers, who have dropped eight in a row on the road, haven’t been swept by the Nationals/Expos’ franchise since a three-game series at Montreal from Aug. 4-6, 1998.

To avoid another sweep, Los Angeles will have to start to score some runs. The Dodgers have managed 10 runs during the losing streak, hitting .107 (6-for-56) with runners in scoring position while stranding a total of 47 runners over the last four contests.

That poor production has also dropped the Dodgers into second place in the NL West, three games behind first-place Arizona after holding a share of the division lead less than two weeks ago.

“We don’t care about the Diamondbacks,” said Dodgers right fielder Matt Kemp, who is 0-for-10 in the series and flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning Wednesday. “We have to worry about what’s going on here. If we take care of our business, the standings will come out if we keep winning. We’re not worried about the Diamondbacks, just like they’re probably not worried about us.”

Los Angeles now turns to rookie Clayton Kershaw (2-4, 4.11 ERA), who will try to rebound from one of his worst performances of the season.

The 20-year-old left-hander, one of the Dodgers’ top pitching prospects, was tagged for a season-high six runs and seven hits in four-plus innings of a 9-2 loss to the Phillies on Saturday. That outing came after he went 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA in his five previous starts, starting with a 2-0 victory over Washington on July 27. In that contest, Kershaw limited the Nationals to four hits in six innings.

The Nationals have swept only two series of at least three games this season. They opened this month by taking all three games from Cincinnati before dropping 10 of the next 15 heading into this series.

Washington hopes John Lannan (7-12, 3.95) can win a second consecutive start after allowing five runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings of Friday’s 13-5 win against the Chicago Cubs. That ended a five-start stretch in which the Nationals lost every game as the left-hander went 0-3 with a 5.76 ERA.

Lannan lost the first game of that span to the Dodgers on July 25, yielding three runs and six hits in seven innings of a 3-2 defeat.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Kershaw LAD vs. J. Lannan NYM
5-5 Record 9-15
4.26 ERA 3.91
100 K 117
52 BB 72
1.50 WHIP 1.34

Scoreboard

Thursday, Aug 28