Dodgers-Diamondbacks Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers may be sputtering, but they're still on the brink of clinching their first NL West title in four years.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, however, aren't making it easy.

The Dodgers get another chance to book a trip to the postseason Thursday, when they conclude four-game series with the Diamondbacks.

Los Angeles (87-65) has dropped 10 of its last 14, but still owns a 9 1/2-game lead on second-place Arizona (77-74) with 10 to play.

With their magic number at two, the Dodgers just need one more win over the Diamondbacks to clinch the West and get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

That's proved to be much tougher than expected as Los Angeles has dropped two of the first three games of this series after Wednesday's 9-4 loss.

"We like where we are at," manager Don Mattingly said. "It is one game at a time. (Wednesday) was a little bit frustrating. It was a frustrating game, but other than that, I am not really frustrated so much."

Keeping Adrian Gonzalez on the field would surely help. The first baseman had an RBI single Wednesday, but was ejected after doubling in the sixth. He appeared to drive in Michael Young, who was called out in a close play at the plate much to Gonzalez's chagrin.

Gonzalez is batting .381 with 11 RBIs over the past 12 games, and he owns a .467 average (14 for 30) with three homers while plating 10 runs in his past eight games at Chase Field.

Yasiel Puig is a frontrunner for NL Rookie of the Year, and that was on display Wednesday when he came a triple shy of the cycle. He was 0 for 7 in the first two games of the series.

The Dodgers are expected to turn to Ricky Nolasco (13-10, 3.36 ERA), who hopes another meeting with the Diamondbacks can help him rebound from his worst performance since being acquired in a trade from Miami on July 6.

The right-hander was pounded for a season-high seven runs while exiting with one out in the second inning of a 19-3 loss to San Francisco on Saturday.

Nolasco had been 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA over his previous eight starts, and he's compiled a 0.83 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 21 2-3 innings while winning all three starts against the Diamondbacks this year.

Nolasco most recently beat them Sept. 9, yielding an unearned run in 6 2-3 innings of an 8-1 victory.

Arizona, though, is relishing its role as spoiler.

"It's still a pride thing," said Brandon McCarthy, Wednesday's winning pitcher. "You understand where things stand but you don't want to see them celebrate.

"If you can get them out of here without having to see it, then all the better."

Wade Miley (10-10, 3.70) is scheduled to get his turn, and he's 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA over his last four starts against the Dodgers. However, those all came on the road.

The left-hander allowed four runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 defeat in his most recent home matchup with Los Angeles on July 5, 2012.

Miley earned a 9-2 win over Colorado on Saturday, yielding two runs in 6 1-3 innings.

Paul Goldschmidt will likely be another obstacle for the Dodgers. He's hitting .395 with six homers and 20 RBIs to help give Arizona a 10-8 advantage in the season series.

The All-Star first baseman had a two-run homer for one of his two hits Wednesday, but he's 2 for 11 with five strikeouts versus Nolasco.

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