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Padres-Dodgers Preview

AP - Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't quite get the offensive boost they were hoping for with the return of star outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

More importantly, though, they returned to their winning ways - as the NL West leaders have come to expect when the San Diego Padres visit Chavez Ravine.

The Dodgers look to continue their home dominance of the Padres on Saturday night, as Kemp and Ethier again try to ignite the offense against San Diego starter Edinson Volquez.

With Kemp (strained left hamstring) missing all but two games since May 14 and Ethier (strained left oblique) sidelined for the final 11 before the All-Star break, Los Angeles (48-40) dropped 15 of 20 to conclude the season's first half while averaging 2.2 runs and batting .198. The Dodgers hoped getting Kemp's .360 average and team-high 12 homers, and Ethier's team-leading 55 RBIs back in the lineup Friday would provide a spark, but that wasn't the case.

Los Angeles finished with five hits, but still won 2-1 to snap a three-game skid thanks to some surprise power from Mark Ellis, who drove in both runs with his third homer. Kemp finished 2 for 4 with a double, while Ethier was 0 for 2 and got hit by a pitch.

"Sometimes you rely too much on your 3-4 hitters," Ellis said. "But as long as everybody has good at-bats, everything will take care of itself and we'll be fine.''

Although the offense again struggled, the Dodgers improved to 24-12 when Kemp and Ethier are both in the starting lineup.

The wins tend to come frequently for Los Angeles against the Padres (34-54). The Dodgers have won 18 of their last 22 overall meetings with the Padres, and 10 straight at Chavez Ravine - their longest active home winning streak over an opponent.

To extend that streak, the Dodgers will again try to again bet the better of Volquez (5-7, 3.52 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA in three starts in the season series. Kemp is 3 for 5 with a homer and a walk against him this year, while Ethier is 3 for 8 with two doubles.

The Dodgers counter with Aaron Harang (6-5, 3.51), who was sharp in his final outing before the break, permitting one run and three hits in seven innings of a 4-1 victory over Cincinnati on July 4.

This will be his fourth start of the season against the Padres, for whom he played last season. He had a 5.91 ERA in two April outings versus San Diego, but allowed four hits over seven shutout innings in an 8-1 road win May 17.

Volquez took the loss in that one, giving up five runs, eight hits and three walks in five innings.

Although he has struggled against the Dodgers, Volquez posted a 0.92 ERA in his final three starts before the break. Against Cincinnati Reds on July 5, the right-hander allowed one run and five hits while striking out a season-high 10 in seven innings of San Diego's 2-1 comeback victory.

The Padres haven't won since that contest, totaling eight runs while losing four straight. They had plenty of chances to score Friday but went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position, dropping their average in RBI situations to .147 during their skid.

No. 3 hitter Chase Headley is 3 for 17 (.176) during the four-game slide, while cleanup hitter Carlos Quentin is batting .103 with one RBI in his last eight contests.

Headley is 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and three walks against Harang in 2012.

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