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76-70

Cardinals-Dodgers Preview

AP - Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a chance to pull even with the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL's final playoff spot.

The Cardinals would prefer to widen their tenuous lead.

Andre Ethier will try to continue his success against St. Louis in order to turn the league's wild-card race into a dead heat Saturday night.

Los Angeles (75-70) is one game behind the Cardinals (76-69) for the second wild-card position after winning 8-5 on Friday. The Dodgers, who fell 2-1 in Thursday's opener of this important four-game series, have won just two of nine.

"(Friday) we scored some runs and played the game right," said third baseman Luis Cruz, who hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs. "It's our time now. And from now on we're going to keep playing hard every day. We've got to keep fighting. We're never going to give up, and I think we're going to come through and win a wild card spot."

Ethier will likely have a say in that. He's hitting .431 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 13 games at Chavez Ravine after getting two hits Friday, including a two-run homer.

"Dre's home run on a 3-0 green light was huge," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's dangerous and especially aggressive when you let him go on 3-0."

Ethier is a career .391 hitter in 24 games against the Cardinals, and may be in for another big effort at the plate with Jaime Garcia (4-7, 4.41 ERA) scheduled to get the ball for St. Louis.

Garcia is trying to finally carry some of his home success onto the road. The left-hander is 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA in seven home starts, but he's 2-5 with a 6.19 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .325 in nine road outings.

"We just talked about carrying his home approach when he's on the road," pitching coach Derek Lilliquist told the team's official website. "The emphasis is to work backward on your timing just like you do at home."

Garcia's issues as a visiting pitcher have shown few signs of abating, losing four straight starts with an 11.02 ERA. He was hit hard again Monday, surrendering four runs and seven hits with four strikeouts and three walks in three innings of an 11-3 defeat at San Diego.

"I have no idea why. If I did, then we'd do something to fix it," manager Mike Matheny told the team's official website. "There's not a good explanation: It's 60 feet, six inches. You can't deny that it's something he's struggling with."

Facing the Dodgers may not help since Garcia is 1-1 with a 7.43 ERA in three starts against them. However, he won his only start at Chavez Ravine on April 14, 2011, allowing three runs in five innings.

Matt Holliday is looking to build on his two-run homer from Friday, and he owns a .340 average with 21 homers and 75 RBIs lifetime versus Los Angeles.

He's also 4 for 10 with two doubles and two homers versus Joe Blanton, the Dodgers' scheduled starter.

Blanton (9-13, 4.98) is 1-4 with a 6.25 ERA in seven starts since being acquired in a trade from Philadelphia.

The right-hander was pressed into duty Sunday after Clayton Kershaw was scratched with a sore hip. He responded by giving up four runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-0 loss at San Francisco.

Blanton is 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA in his last four regular-season games - three starts - against St. Louis.

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