Dodgers-Giants Preview

The Associated Press

Just when the Los Angeles Dodgers thought they were going to get a weekend in San Francisco without seeing Matt Cain, the weather intervened.

Instead, he'll start Friday's series opener for the Giants against the visiting Dodgers, whom Cain has dominated in recent years. But Cain also hasn't seen a lineup as potent as the one Los Angeles has fielded of late - one that could get deeper with the potential return of Carl Crawford.

Cain (5-4, 4.29 ERA) was slated to start Thursday at Cincinnati, but the game was postponed due to rain, moving him back a day.

He's 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA over his last 11 starts against Los Angeles, allowing just 57 hits and 12 walks in 74 2-3 innings dating back to Aug. 1, 2010. Nine of those outings were quality starts, and Cain held the Dodgers to one run or fewer six times.

The right-hander is coming off arguably his finest start of the year, though the slumping San Francisco offense - which has scored 26 runs while losing 11 of 13 - couldn't turn it into a victory. Cain did not get a decision as he gave up one run and three hits - two in the first inning - and walked one over eight frames of a 2-1 loss to Colorado on Saturday.

These teams split Cain's two starts versus the Dodgers earlier this season as he held them to one run in a combined 13 1-3 innings. But Los Angeles' offense has evolved into an entirely different beast.

The second time the Dodgers (40-44) saw Cain, it was their 30th game, through which they were averaging 3.5 runs. They've won 10 of their last 12 while scoring 5.2 per game.

While they're coming off a 9-5 loss at Colorado on Thursday, the team's sixth 11-plus hit game in nine contests was still encouraging - as is Crawford's possible return.

Crawford, who was hitting .301 with 32 runs in 51 games before succumbing to a strained hamstring June 1, has completed his rehab assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. He will be with the Dodgers on Friday, according to their official website, though they haven't confirmed that they will activate the four-time All-Star from the disabled list.

His return could create almost as many headaches for manager Don Mattingly as it seemingly will for opposing pitchers trying to navigate the order. Mattingly will have to juggle an outfield that includes Crawford, rookie sensation Yaisel Puig, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Puig went 1 for 5 on Thursday to extend his hitting streak to eight games and is still batting .430 with 19 RBIs since making his major league debut June 3.

Kemp is only hitting .254 but homered for the second straight game and has six RBIs over his last four. Ethier, batting .258 on the season, is hitting .303 over his last nine and has five hits in his last 13 at-bats.

"It will be a little sticky, honestly," Mattingly told the team's official website. "Only three spots and four guys."

As for Cain, he'll also have to deal with Adrian Gonzalez, who has homered in three straight games, as well as Hanley Ramirez, who is batting .483 with 16 RBIs during a 15-game hitting streak.

Los Angeles starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-3, 2.83) will try to extend the Giants' offensive woes. The South Korean left-hander has already seen San Francisco (39-45) three times in his inaugural big league season, but went 0-2 despite a 2.84 ERA. He's posted a quality start in eight of his last nine outings while going 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA.

No batters have faced Cain more than Ethier and Gonzalez, who are 28 for 63 (.444) and 20 for 63 (.317) off him, respectively. Kemp is just 11 for 51 against Cain with 15 strikeouts.

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