The Los Angeles Dodgers are moving closer to their first division title since 2004.
After rebounding from a disappointing weekend set in the series opener, the Dodgers look for a fourth consecutive victory over the visiting San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.
One day after suffering a 1-0, 11-inning loss to drop two of three at home against San Francisco, Los Angeles (82-75) opened its final home series of the regular season with a 10-1 win over San Diego on Monday.
While the victory marked the second time in three contests the Dodgers have scored 10 runs, they increased their lead to three games in the NL West over Arizona, which lost at St. Louis on Tuesday. That combination cut Los Angeles’ magic number for clinching the division to three with five games remaining.
“Three is our number,” said first-year Dodgers manager Joe Torre, whose team has won six of seven over the Padres this month. “We want to win the next three games and put this thing to sleep. We’re confident, but not comfortable.”
“You always want to get down to where it’s in your hands and that’s where we are,” Garciaparra said.
Ramirez, hitting .395 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 40 games since being traded from Boston, joined Carlos Beltran as the only players in major league history to record at least 50 RBIs in each league during the same season. Ramirez had 68 for the Red Sox earlier in 2008.
Rookie Clayton Kershaw (4-5, 4.28 ERA) looks for his third consecutive winning decision when he takes the ball for the Dodgers. Though he allowed one run and two hits in five innings of a 4-3, 12-inning win at Pittsburgh on Thursday, Kershaw wasn’t happy with his outing.
“We got the win and that’s the main thing, but for me, it was just one of those days,” Kershaw told the Dodgers’ official Web site. “I was just bad with everything”.
The left-hander, who has given up two runs over 11 innings in his last two outings, is 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts against San Diego this season.
San Diego counters with Shawn Estes (2-3, 4.73) as he tries to avoid a third consecutive loss after allowing six runs and 13 hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 10-3 loss at Colorado on Tuesday.
“I gave up a bunch of hits, but all but two were off pretty good pitches,” Estes said.
The left-hander is 6-9 with a 5.27 ERA in 29 starts against the Dodgers and allowed five runs in five innings of a 7-2 loss to them on Sept. 10.
“Our challenge is to go out and make it very tough on the Dodgers,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “The Dodgers have a lot to play for. They know that we’re going to come at them the next two nights.”
Gonzalez, the rookie older brother of Padres’ star Adrian Gonzalez, is 10-for-25 against the Dodgers.