Los Angeles (65-70) at Arizona (69-65)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Sat Aug 30, 2008
  • TV: KCAL
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Los Angeles Dodgers were already playing themselves out of contention in the NL West heading into their key series with the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.

After a decisive victory in the series opener, the Diamondbacks look to further distance themselves in the West by extending the Dodgers’ season-high losing streak to nine games Saturday night at Chase Field.

Arizona (69-65) avoided a fifth straight loss of its own by defeating Los Angeles 9-3 on Friday, moving 4 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers in the weak West in the process.

“The way both teams were playing, the first one’s real big for us,” said Arizona manager Bob Melvin, whose team has dropped five of seven. “We’ve still got two more games in the series. We need to get at least one more of these.”

Los Angeles (65-70) was tied atop the division with Arizona on Aug. 15, but has lost 11 of 13 since then and is 0-8 on a 10-game road trip.

“We need to find a way to get this stuff straightened out,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “There’s still plenty of time left. Right now, the last couple of weeks have been ugly.”

Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson and Adam Dunn each drove in two runs Friday for the Diamondbacks, who scored only one fewer run than the 10 they managed during their entire four-game losing streak. Dunn, who is 5-for-9 with a double and four walks in his last three games, is batting .393 (11-for-28) with six RBIs against the Dodgers this season.

Arizona starter Dan Haren (14-6, 3.10 ERA) looks to win his third straight decision and match his career high win total from 2007.

Haren pitched well but didn’t factor in the decision of his most recent outing. He allowed two runs while striking out a season-high 11 in seven innings Monday, but San Diego’s Jody Gerut hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to hand Arizona a 4-2 loss.

“I knew I had good stuff,” Haren said. “My split got better as the game went on and I was able to strike out people.”

The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this season, including a 3-2 home win July 19, when he allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings.

The Dodgers counter with Chad Billingsley (12-10, 3.15), who tries again to set a career high in wins of his own. It won’t be easy against Arizona, a club against which he is 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA this season.

The right-hander enters this contest after giving up three runs and seven hits in six innings of a 5-0 loss at Philadelphia on Monday. He’s 0-1 over his last two outings despite having allowed three runs or fewer in nine consecutive starts.

“The only thing I can do is go out there and pitch,” Billingsley told the Dodgers’ official Web site. “I’ve got to just worry about that, go out there, throw scoreless innings, keep the game close, whatever I can do.”

While the Dodgers’ offense continues to struggle, having been outscored 54-15 during their current skid, Manny Ramirez has remained hot. The left fielder went 4-for-4 on Friday and is batting .400 with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 27 games since being acquired from Boston at last month’s trade deadline.

The Dodgers are likely to be without second baseman Jeff Kent, who left Friday’s game with left knee pain and said he would undergo an MRI.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Billingsley LAD vs. D. Haren LAD
16-10 Record 16-8
3.14 ERA 3.33
201 K 206
80 BB 40
1.34 WHIP 1.13

Scoreboard

Saturday, Aug 30