It’s almost certain the Los Angeles Dodgers won’t be going to the postseason. However, that hasn’t kept first-year manager Don Mattingly from staying the course and trying to get his team to finish strong down the stretch.
Looking for their 12th win in 14 games, the Dodgers open a three-game set with the struggling Washington Nationals on Monday afternoon.
Los Angeles took two of three from Washington in July at Chavez Ravine, but has alternated wins and losses in its last six games in the nation’s capital.
The Dodgers (68-71), who have outscored opponents 78-44 over their last 13 games, failed to complete their first sweep in Atlanta since 1988 after falling 4-3 on Sunday.
“I keep thinking about winning every day,” Mattingly told the Dodgers’ official website. “For me, that’s been the plan throughout the whole season. I come to the park and get ready and plan on winning that day. That’s it. That’s all we can control.”
James Loney(notes) has been key to the Dodgers during their hot streak, batting .389 (21 for 54) with three homers and 12 RBIs in the 11-2 stretch. Matt Kemp(notes), who ended a seven-game homerless drought with his 32nd on Sunday, has four homers and 13 RBIs over that same span while batting .304.
Washington (64-74) has dropped 10 of 12 following Sunday’s 6-3 defeat to the New York Mets. Danny Espinosa(notes), who went 3 for 3 and is third among NL rookies with 116 hits, was 1 for 13 with six strikeouts against Los Angeles in July.
The right-hander has been backed by a total of 32 runs during his four-game winning streak after receiving 50 runs over his first 23 starts.
Kuroda wasn’t happy with his effort in Tuesday’s 8-5 win over San Diego. He had a shutout through five innings, but surrendered four runs in the sixth before being lifted.
“I should have pitched a lot better than I did (Tuesday) with the run support I had,” he said. “I think I was being too cautious.”
The Dodgers gave Kuroda plenty of runs to work with when he won his only start in Washington, a 14-2 rout Sept. 22, 2009. He’s since gotten a total of four runs while going 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts versus the Nationals.
John Lannan(notes) (8-11, 3.54) will take the mound for Washington looking to end a four-start losing streak. The left-hander’s skid began Aug. 13, when he suffered an apparent knee injury early in an 11-3 loss to Philadelphia.
The Nationals have scored just three runs for Lannan during his slide, which continued Wednesday with a 3-1 setback to the Braves.
Kemp is 1 for 10 lifetime against Lannan, while Loney is 0 for 6.
Lannan outpitched Kuroda to lift the Nationals to a 7-2 victory July 22. While each pitcher lasted 6 1-3 innings, Lannan yielded two runs and three hits while Kuroda was reached for three runs and seven hits.