While Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly's job has become a hot topic of debate, things figure to blow over if the club starts putting wins together.
Doing so, however, could prove difficult against the major league-leading St. Louis Cardinals, who visit Dodger Stadium for the first of three Friday night.
With his team sitting at the bottom of the NL West, Mattingly publicly expressed displeasure with the Dodgers' efforts prior to Wednesday's matchup at Milwaukee. Los Angeles (19-26) responded by matching its highest run total of the season in a 9-2 victory.
Scott Van Slyke and Carl Crawford both went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and Ramon Hernandez hit his first homer for the Dodgers, who are six games behind Arizona, Colorado and San Francisco for first place.
"A good run the next month or two could put us right back where we want to be by the All-Star break," said former All-Star Andre Ethier, who was benched for the third time in six games. "We have confidence in everyone in this room and everyone on this staff. Other than the pressure put on this team to perform right away and do what's it's done is the reason why these issues are coming up."
While some believe Mattingly's job could be on the line, he'll be on the bench Friday.
The Dodgers have won six of 11, including four of five at Chavez Ravine while hitting .303. They figure to be in for a stiff test against the Cardinals (30-16), who have posted a .362 average with runners in scoring position while taking 16 of 21.
Yadier Molina matched a career high with four hits and Carlos Beltran and Matt Carpenter went a combined 5 for 8 with three runs in Wednesday's 5-3 victory at San Diego. Tyler Lyons - the third rookie starting pitcher used by St. Louis - threw seven strong innings in his major league debut.
"We're proud of how the guys are going about their business despite instances that could be described as adversity," manager Mike Matheny said. "They play hard every day and they put a lot of faith in each other and the next man up."
The Cardinals now turn to Lance Lynn (6-1, 3.27 ERA), who allowed four runs and eight hits over five innings during Saturday's 6-4, 10-inning loss to Milwaukee.
Lynn, who had a 1.80 ERA over his previous five starts, is 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against Los Angeles, which counters with Chris Capuano (1-2, 4.84). The left-hander, 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA over his last two outings, scattered five hits over 7 1-3 innings of one-run ball but didn't factor in the decision of Saturday's 3-1 loss at Atlanta.
Capuano, who threw a season-high 91 pitches, was removed after feeling the effects of a lingering strained calf.
"It just feels a little tired," he said. "I've got an extra day before the next start. With treatment and stuff we should be able to get that ready."
Capuano is 1-5 with a 6.58 ERA over his last 10 starts versus St. Louis, and his career 5.83 ERA against the Cardinals is tied for his highest against any NL opponent. Matt Holliday is 10 for 27 with two homers against him and Allen Craig is 5 for 8 with a long ball.
Cardinals third baseman David Freese is hoping to be available after missing the last three games with a cut on his thumb.
Dodgers second baseman Skip Schumaker, who spent the first eight years of his career with St. Louis before getting traded in December, faces his former team for the first time.
The Cardinals have taken five of seven from the Dodgers.
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