Los Angeles (67-45) at San Francisco (61-50)

Cloudy Currently: San Francisco, CA
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 10:15 pm EDT Mon Aug 10, 2009
  • TV: PRIME, KNTV
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Maybe for the first time this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers look vulnerable. No other team takes greater pleasure in the NL West leaders’ slump than the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants look to send the Dodgers to their season high-tying fourth straight defeat - and 11th in 16 games - as the rivals open a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday night.

Los Angeles (67-45) pulled into first place in the NL West on April 15, and the Dodgers have had a stranglehold on the division lead ever since. Though that lead is in no imminent danger, Los Angeles no longer looks like a lock to repeat as division champion after dropping 10 of its last 15.

“You can call it a rut,” catcher Russell Martin(notes) said after Sunday’s 8-2 home loss to Atlanta, the team’s third straight defeat.

“We’re not playing our best baseball, but every team goes through stretches like this. We’re a little tired of losing, but good teams bounce back - and I consider our team a good team. … It was a tough series for us, but we’ll bounce back.”

The Dodgers hope to do so against the Giants (61-50), who are tied with Colorado for second place in the division at 5 1/2 games back and for the wild-card lead.

“The Giants are the club right behind us, and these are the people we have to beat to win our division. So it’s important, no question,” manager Joe Torre said. “They’re a real good team, and we knew that from the get-go because of their starting pitching.

“I am looking forward to it, but it’s more about us than the Giants. We’ve been a little erratic as far as scoring runs, and we’ve had some good outings and not-so good outings from our pitchers.”

The Dodgers won their first three meetings with the Giants but have dropped four of six. They lost two of three in their first trip to AT&T Park from April 27-29.

The Giants didn’t take full advantage of the Dodgers’ struggles over the weekend, dropping two of three at home against lowly Cincinnati for their third series loss at AT&T Park. San Francisco, which is an NL-best 38-18 at home, had won its previous six series there.

“We’ve played so well all year, and, you know, a couple of hiccups here,” manager Bruce Bochy said after a 5-2 loss in the finale against the Reds on Sunday. “The way we played this series, that’s going to happen. We just have to put this one behind us. We have a big series in front of us.”

Jonathan Sanchez(notes) (5-9, 4.49 ERA) will start for the Giants. The left-hander has posted a 1.42 ERA while winning back-to-back starts for the first time this season. He held Houston to four hits while striking out eight in seven scoreless innings of an 8-1 victory Tuesday.

Sanchez is 4-1 with a 3.26 ERA in nine games at AT&T Park, where he pitched the majors’ first no-hitter of the season July 10. He’s 0-2 with a 5.02 ERA in eight games - five starts - against the Dodgers.

Los Angeles will counter with Hiroki Kuroda(notes) (4-5, 4.44), who is 0-1 with a 4.79 ERA in four starts against San Francisco, all last year.

The Dodgers have won each of Kuroda’s four starts since the All-Star break. The right-hander snapped a personal four-start winless streak Tuesday, giving up three runs in six innings of a 17-4 victory over Milwaukee.

This will be the first meeting between the storied rivals since May 10 in Los Angeles, when Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake(notes) hit a tying 12th-inning homer off Brian Wilson(notes) - and then was caught on camera in the dugout making a gesture in the dugout mocking Wilson’s crossed-arm, finger-pointing gesture the Giants’ closer makes after each successful save.

San Francisco went on to win that game 7-5 in 13 innings.

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Starting Pitchers

H. Kuroda NYY vs. J. Sanchez ChC
8-7 Record 8-12
3.76 ERA 4.24
87 K 177
24 BB 88
1.14 WHIP 1.37

Scoreboard

Monday, Aug 10