Just over a month ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers looked like a lock to win the NL West behind one of the league’s top offenses.
Struggling to score runs, that playoff berth is no longer a sure thing.
After being shut out in lackluster performance, the Dodgers try to bounce back Saturday night when they host the San Diego Padres, who seek their fifth straight win.
Los Angeles (80-56) owned a comfortable nine-game lead in the division July 22, thanks to an offense that led the NL in on-base percentage (.352) and was third in the league in runs (478). The club hasn’t looked like a playoff-caliber team lately, though.
The Dodgers have plated the league’s fifth-fewest runs (166) and have the sixth-worst OBP (.333) since July 23 as their division lead has been reduced to 4 1/2 games over Colorado and 5 1/2 over San Francisco with 26 games to play.
Los Angeles was limited to six hits in Friday’s 2-0 loss to San Diego, the first time it was shut out since against St. Louis on July 28.
Andre Ethier(notes) was one of the Dodgers’ top performers when Manny Ramirez(notes) served his 50-game suspension, but he hasn’t been producing much lately. Ethier still leads Los Angeles with 88 RBIs, but he’s batting .176 with one RBI in his last nine games.
Although Wolf has had trouble earning victories at Dodger Stadium, going 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 14 starts there, Los Angeles has come out winners in 10 of those games. Neither Wolf nor the Dodgers were able to get a win against Arizona on Monday, though.
Wolf pitched well enough to earn win No. 100, leaving with Los Angeles leading the Diamondbacks 3-2, but the bullpen couldn’t hold on. The left-hander gave up two runs and six hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 5-3, 10-inning loss. He had posted a 1.80 ERA in winning his previous four starts.
Wolf, who made 21 starts for the Padres last season, is 0-1 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts against his former team this year. He potentially could have won the last two meetings, yielding two runs and six hits over 11 1-3 innings in those games, but received little help from his offense.
The Padres (60-76) have won four in a row and eight of 10 after losing eight of 11.
Pitching has keyed this turnaround for San Diego, which has recorded back-to-back shutouts to allow only two runs during the winning streak.
“Even though we’re not headed toward the playoffs, the other team is playing with high intensity - and we’re going to match that intensity,” manager Bud Black said. “It’s also important to play in these types of games against teams that are possibly headed to the playoffs, because it gives you the experience.”
The 21-year-old right-hander has now allowed at least five runs in three of four starts after giving up two runs or fewer in each of his first five.
Latos, who will be making his first career start against the Dodgers, hasn’t won since defeating the New York Mets on Aug. 8.