Los Angeles (79-73) at Pittsburgh (64-88)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 12:35 pm EDT Thu Sep 18, 2008
  • TV: PRIME
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Los Angeles Dodgers usually don’t have to be worried with keeping up with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the plate.

Nomar Garciaparra’s health, meanwhile, always seems to be a concern.

After having their late-season surge stalled by a surprisingly strong Pirates’ performance, the Dodgers may have to make do without their often-injured shortstop when the teams conclude a four-game series Thursday.

Winning the first two games of this series gave Los Angeles (79-73) 14 victories in its last 16 games. But the Dodgers’ surge was halted Wednesday night with a 15-8 loss to Pittsburgh (64-88), which has scored eight runs or more in a game only twice in its last 46 contests.

The Dodgers won their previous four games against the Pirates, holding them to two runs or less in each contest.

Los Angeles lost despite collecting a season-high 18 hits, as its lead over Arizona in the NL West fell to 3 1/2 games.

Garciaparra injured his right leg while attempting to score from second in the fifth inning. His status for Thursday’s game is uncertain, but the Dodgers may opt to rest him because of the quick turnaround.

“It’s probably going to be sore for a couple of days,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “He’s moving around all right. He seemed pretty upbeat about it.”

Garciaparra has played in only 50 games this season due to three stints on the disabled list (broken right hand, strained left calf and left knee irritation).

The 35-year-old Garciaparra has not played in more than 122 games in any of his three seasons with Los Angeles. Los Angeles could go with Chin-lung Hu or Angel Berroa at shortstop if Garciaparra can’t play.

Whoever starts at shortstop will be playing behind rookie Clayton Kershaw (4-5, 4.41 ERA), who is making his first appearance against Pittsburgh.

Kershaw won his last start, giving up one run and four hits while striking out seven in six innings as Los Angeles beat Colorado 5-1 on Saturday night. Kershaw, 20, went 1-2 with an 8.83 ERA in his previous four outings.

Pittsburgh will counter with Paul Maholm (9-8, 3.68), who has given up two runs or less in six of his last seven starts. The left-hander allowed two runs and seven hits in eight-plus innings to earn a win as Pittsburgh beat St. Louis 10-2 on Friday night.

Maholm is 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA in four career starts against the Dodgers.

Maholm could certainly use a second straight big game at the plate from the Pirates. Adam LaRoche hit a grand slam among his two homers, and Ryan Doumit homered and drove in four runs.

“It’s something to build off and hopefully finish off with some wins,” LaRoche said.

LaRoche is having a strong stretch run after struggling early this year. He is hitting .375 with eight doubles, four homers and 21 RBIs in 14 games this month after hitting below .200 for most of April and May.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Kershaw LAD vs. P. Maholm Cin
5-5 Record 9-9
4.26 ERA 3.71
100 K 139
52 BB 63
1.50 WHIP 1.28

Scoreboard

Thursday, Sep 18