With a magic number of six, the Los Angeles Dodgers know they are getting closer to an NL West title.
The Dodgers look to bounce back from having their seven-game home winning streak snapped when they continue their weekend series against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night.
Los Angeles (80-74) lost the opener of this series 7-1 on Friday, but second-place Arizona stumbled to its 11th straight road loss, 3-2 to Colorado earlier in the night. That left the Dodgers’ division lead still at 3 1/2 games, and cut their magic number to six.
They will try to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since a season-high eight-game losing streak from Aug. 22-29. That skid dropped Los Angeles 4 1/2 games behind Arizona, but the Dodgers have recovered in a big way by winning 15 of their next 19 games.
The Dodgers were stifled Friday by Barry Zito, who limited them to one run and six hits in 7 2-3 innings. The Giants (69-85) ended a four-game losing streak with their third straight win over their arch-rivals to cut their deficit in the season series to 7-6.
Ramirez, though, went 2-for-3 for his third straight multihit effort at Dodger Stadium, where he’s enjoyed plenty of success with his new club. The slugger is batting .422 (27-for-64) with six homers and 24 RBIs in 20 home games with Los Angeles.
The Dodgers have won three straight starts by Hiroki Kuroda (9-10, 3.77 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in that span. Kuroda was outstanding Monday at Pittsburgh, allowing three hits over seven scoreless innings in an 8-2 victory.
“Our offense has been really good lately. If I perform well enough, I know the offense is going to support me,” Kuroda said. “Lately, I feel very relaxed pitching, knowing the offense is going to help me out.”
The right-hander hasn’t fared well this year against NL West opponents, going 3-6 with a 5.76 ERA in 13 starts. That includes an 0-1 mark with a 6.17 ERA in two outings against the Giants.
Brad Hennessey (1-2, 8.04) makes his third start of the season for San Francisco. He was inserted into the rotation in place of a struggling Kevin Correia on Sept. 10 and has been fairly effective in two starts, going 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA.
This will be the right-hander’s first start against Los Angeles since Aug. 19, 2006. He’s 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA in six career starts versus the Dodgers.