Dodgers-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

It won't take long for Aaron Harang to face the team he pitched for last season.

He'll return to face his hometown San Diego Padres on Sunday when the Los Angeles Dodgers try for a series sweep and their first 4-0 start since 1981.

Harang, a San Diego native who attended San Diego State, signed with the Padres last season and led them in victories by going 14-7 with a 3.64 ERA. San Diego declined to sign him for 2012, and the Dodgers gave him a two-year deal worth $12 million.

The veteran right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.82 ERA in his last five starts against San Diego. The current Padres hitter he has faced the most is Jeremy Hermida, who is 7 for 15 against him but has yet to start this year.

Los Angeles last began with four victories when it started 6-0 in 1981 and won the World Series under Tommy Lasorda. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp each have six RBIs in this series, combining for four in Saturday's 6-5, 11-inning victory.

It was a player who went 1 for 10 in the first two games who came up the biggest. Dee Gordon went 3 for 4 and singled in the go-ahead run in the 11th after the Dodgers blew a 5-0 lead.

"I was trying to see something up that I could hit up the middle and I was able to put the bat on the ball,'' he said.

Manager Don Mattingly was convinced that Gordon's slow start was nothing to worry about.

"His demeanor doesn't really change,'' Mattingly said. "He's upbeat, he's confident. I've been saying it all spring, this kid can hit. Really, he's just about playing the game and winning games. The first two games he got one hit, I think, and it was like nothing had changed.''

San Diego managed three runs in its first 22 innings of the season before a five-run outburst in the fifth Saturday in a frame in which it had only two hits. The Padres are batting .126, with Chase Headley 0 for 11 with two walks and six strikeouts.

Padres starters have posted a 7.36 ERA while failing to last past the fifth inning every time. Clayton Richard will try to change that after his 2011 was cut short due to shoulder surgery July 29.

The left-hander went 5-9 with a 3.88 ERA in 18 starts last year. Richard is 4-1 with a 2.58 ERA in seven career outings against the Dodgers, including 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in four at home.

Juan Uribe is 8 for 18 against Richard, and he will be back in the lineup against the southpaw after he and Juan Rivera were not in it Saturday, with the Padres starting right-hander Dustin Moseley. Mattingly said Rivera, who went 0 for 3 after entering as a pinch-hitter Saturday, will also start Sunday.

The Padres' last 0-4 start was in 1994 while the Dodgers' last four-game sweep in San Diego was from June 28-July 1, 2001. Los Angeles has won 13 of the last 15 overall matchups, and nine of the last 12 at Petco Park.

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