Los Angeles (91-61) at Washington (52-99)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu Sep 24, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Los Angeles Dodgers can move a step closer to clinching their second straight postseason berth Thursday night against the major league-worst Washington Nationals.

Vicente Padilla(notes) would like the opportunity to pitch in the playoffs, and the right-hander will try to earn his fourth win with the team in the finale of a three-game series in the nation’s capital.

The Dodgers (91-61) are hoping to make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1995-96 and a win over the Nationals (52-99) would reduce their magic number to one as Atlanta is idle. They also need a combination of wins and Colorado losses equaling six to earn their first consecutive division crowns since 1977-78.

Los Angeles missed an opportunity to move closer toward ending both races with Wednesday night’s 5-4 loss that snapped a three-game win streak. After rallying to tie the game in the top of the ninth on a Cristian Guzman(notes) error, Washington scored on Andre Ethier’s(notes) miscue on Pete Orr’s(notes) fly ball to right field to end its three-game slide.

The Dodgers, who have the fourth fewest errors in the NL (76), have committed five in five games. They’ve also lost four of five at Nationals Park, which opened last season.

“Just because they’re however many games out don’t mean they’re just going to roll over and let everybody come in and stomp them,” said second baseman Orlando Hudson(notes), who left the game with a jammed left wrist after reaching on an error to open the ninth.

They’ll try to rebound behind Padilla (3-0, 2.96 ERA), who faces an uphill battle to crack the Dodgers’ postseason rotation.

However, he might earn a spot in the bullpen, especially if he continues to pitch well. The right-hander, who began this season with Texas, allowed two or fewer runs in four straight starts after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug. 27.

Padilla, though, gave up four runs - on two homers - over five innings Friday against San Francisco and did not get the decision in an 8-4 loss.

Padilla is searching for his fourth straight win over the Nationals dating back to Aug. 18, 2005, and has a 2.37 ERA in those outings.

Trying to avoid their second straight 100-loss season, Washington will turn to J.D. Martin(notes) (5-4, 4.21), who is seeking a career-high third win in a row.

Martin, who has never faced the Dodgers, has allowed two earned runs in four straight starts, including Friday’s 6-5 win in New York. The right-hander pitched 5 1-3 innings as Washington held on for the victory.

Ryan Zimmerman(notes) homered in that win and hit a three-run shot in the sixth inning Wednesday night to break up Chad Billingsley’s(notes) no-hit bid. The All-Star third baseman, who has a career-best 31 homers this season, reached 100 RBIs for the second time and is 10 shy of matching his career high set in 2006.

The Nationals suffered 102 losses last season, the most since moving from Montreal in 2005. The Expos dropped 110 games in their inaugural 1969 season and were 55-107 in 1976.

“Are we at 99?” Zimmerman asked. “All of are obviously disappointed in this season, but we’re excited about what we have coming in the future.”

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Starting Pitchers

V. Padilla BOS vs. J. Martin CWS
12-6 Record 5-4
4.46 ERA 4.44
97 K 37
54 BB 24
1.43 WHIP 1.42


Thursday, Sep 24