Dodgers-Cubs Preview

AP - Sports

Matt Kemp receives most of the credit for the Los Angeles Dodgers' solid start, though the pitching staff has been pretty good as well.

Chad Billingsley will take the mound when the Dodgers continue their road trip Friday against the Chicago Cubs, who return home after their trip ended on a sour note.

Kemp is off to an incredible start for the Dodgers (17-8), leading the majors with a .411 average and 12 home runs while ranking among the leaders with 25 RBIs.

"As long as I'm hitting the ball good and having good at bats, I'm going to be successful," Kemp said.

Manager Don Mattingly said his slugger will only continue to get better.

"You're going to know Matt," Mattingly said. "It's going to keep growing. If he continues like that, the sky's the limit. You'll end up seeing this guy somewhere special."

The Dodgers' starting pitching has been pretty special, too. The rotation is 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA that ranks among the best in baseball.

Billingsley (2-1, 2.64 ERA) will look to help get Los Angeles back on track after it dropped two of three in Colorado following an 8-5 loss Wednesday.

The right-hander allowed one run in seven innings of a 4-3, 10-inning victory over Washington on Saturday. He is 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA over his last four starts against the Cubs and 3-2 with a 2.30 ERA - including the postseason - at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs (9-16) hope their six-game homestand gets off to a good start after a bitter ending to their road trip.

Chicago led Cincinnati 3-0 in the ninth inning Thursday when Carlos Marmol allowed three runs without retiring a batter. The Cubs eventually fell 4-3 in 10 innings.

Marmol has a 6.23 ERA and has walked 12 with eight strikeouts over 8 2-3 innings in 12 appearances, and manager Dale Sveum said he's considering taking Marmol out of the closer role.

"You have a game like that - I'm embarrassed right now," Marmol said. "He's going to decide what to do. I agree with that."

Bryan LaHair has seven of the Cubs' 14 homers, hitting a solo shot Thursday. Starlin Castro and Geovany Soto also homered for Chicago, which went 3-3 on its trip.

Paul Maholm (2-2, 6.20) will take the hill Friday in search of his first victory over the Dodgers.

Maholm allowed six runs and six hits in four innings in each of his first two starts, losing to Milwaukee on April 10 and St. Louis on April 15. He's rebounded nicely since, winning his last two outings with a 1.46 ERA after giving up one run in 6 1-3 innings to beat Philadelphia 5-1 last Friday.

The left-hander said he couldn't afford to get down after his rough start.

"You just have to make your pitches and do what you can and have a chance to get some things going," Maholm told the team's official website.

Maholm, though, is 0-5 with a 5.33 ERA in eight starts against the Dodgers, walking 25 and striking out only 21 in 49 innings.

Kemp is 4 for 12 off Maholm, while Alfonso Soriano is 4 for 24 with 11 strikeouts against Billingsley.

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