Dodgers-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

Time is running out on the Los Angeles Dodgers' playoff push, and giving the ball to Aaron Harang doesn't seem the best way for the team to pick up a needed win.

Having to face San Diego's Clayton Richard also doesn't appear ideal.

The Dodgers, who are winless in Harang's starts over the last month, hope to spark their flickering playoff hopes Wednesday against a Padres team looking to win their seventh straight game started by Richard.

With a 2-1 loss in Tuesday's opener in San Diego, Los Angeles (79-75) dropped 4 1/2 back of St. Louis for the NL's second wild-card spot with eight to play.

"Every loss is a tough loss,'' Matt Kemp said. "We had it again where we had a chance to win it."

The Dodgers had plenty of opportunities, but left 11 runners on base. It didn't help that Kemp made the second out in the sixth inning when he ran past third on a Hanley Ramirez infield single that would have loaded the bases. Kemp also ended the game with a flyout to right field with runners on the corners.

To make the playoffs, Los Angeles now has to close the season with a surge, which seems unlikely seeing as its won only six times in its last 18 games.

It's had an even worse luck lately behind Harang (9-10, 3.80 ERA).

Since beating Atlanta on Aug. 18, Harang is 0-3 with a 4.62 ERA in his last five starts, with the Dodgers losing each. He faced the Padres (74-80) during this stretch, allowing three runs in five innings of a 4-3 setback on Sept. 5, but didn't get the decision. Harang, who played for San Diego last season, is 1-5 with a 4.81 ERA in his last 10 starts versus the Padres.

The right-hander hasn't pitched since last Wednesday, when he gave up two runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 3-1 loss to Washington in the first game of a doubleheader.

While the Dodgers haven't had any recent success behind Harang, the Padres have won Richard's last six starts, with the left-hander going 5-0 with a 3.38 ERA.

He was a bit shaky, however, when he opposed Harang at Dodger Stadium three weeks ago, surrendering three runs and a season-high tying 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings. He could fare better at Petco Park, where he is 4-0 with a 0.96 ERA in five career starts versus Los Angeles. He also has a 1.60 ERA in winning his five starts in San Diego since the All-Star break, and the Padres are 14-3 at Petco since Aug. 19.

San Diego has won three straight over Los Angeles, and five of the last six after losing eight of the season's first 10 meetings.

Even when the Padres struggled against the Dodgers early in the season, Chase Headley still gave them problems. He had two hits in the opener, bringing his season total to a career-best 163, and is batting .373 with six homers and 18 RBIs during a 13-game hitting streak against Los Angeles.

Richard will certainly have to be careful facing Ramirez, who is 7 for 8 with a double in lifetime matchups.

Kemp, mired in an 0-for-12 slump, is batting .345 with two homers and three doubles in 29 career at-bats against Richard.

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