A frustrating stretch in August could have destroyed the Los Angeles Dodgers’ playoff chances, but in a weak NL West, they remain in contention despite it.
With the Dodgers believing they have turned things around since that slump due to a three-game winning streak, they continue a three-game home series with the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.
After losing eight straight and 10 of 11, the Dodgers (67-70) have bounced back with three straight wins. They remained only 2 1/2 games behind Arizona for first place in the NL West, however, after a 5-2 win over the Padres (53-84) on Monday.
“We’ve got some life back in us,” catcher Russell Martin told the Dodgers’ official Web site. “The intensity is back, that’s the main thing. You go through rough patches where everybody tries to do too much. If we play like we’ve played the past three games, we’ll be OK.”
Greg Maddux pitched 5 2-3 innings, allowing two runs and six hits for his first win in his second stint with the Dodgers. The victory was also the 354th of his career, moving him into a tie with Roger Clemens for eighth place on the career list.
His solid start came after Derek Lowe pitched six scoreless innings in a win over Arizona on Sunday and after Chad Billingsley allowed two runs over seven innings in Saturday’s win over the Diamondbacks. During the losing streak, the starters were 0-7 with a 5.95 ERA, but for the season, they have the fifth-lowest ERA in the NL at 4.02.
Hoping he can regain some of his earlier form, Clayton Kershaw (2-5, 4.56 ERA) will return to the rotation on Tuesday. The 20-year-old rookie left-hander, one of the Dodgers’ top pitching prospects, was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday after losing his second straight start when he allowed five runs in 2 1-3 innings against the Nationals in an 11-2 loss.
Before his last two starts, Kershaw was 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA in his previous five outings. The Dodgers were 4-1 in those starts, with Kershaw pitching at least six innings in all of them.
“You’ve got to start with what got you here, and what got me here is locating my fastball and putting people away with my curveball, and not saying I’ve gotten away from it, but it just hasn’t been working the way it’s supposed to,” he said.
Kershaw is 1-2 in eight starts at home, but has a 2.86 over those outings. On June 10, in his only start against the Padres, he allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-2 win, but didn’t factor in the decision.
Cha Seung Baek (4-8, 4.85) looks for his first win in five starts when he counters for the Padres. Baek lost three consecutive starts before leaving without a decision on Wednesday against Arizona after allowing two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-4 win.
The right-hander has never faced the Dodgers.
The Padres, who have the second-worst record in the majors, had won five of six before Monday. They’ve lost seven straight on the road, their longest road losing streak since April 2005.