Giants-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers are having trouble staying healthy as they close in on their first NL West title in four years.

With Hanley Ramirez expected to sit out again and Andre Ethier possibly missing, the Dodgers will try to get another strong outing from Ricky Nolasco and top the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night.

Los Angeles' magic number is at four after Arizona's 7-5 loss to Colorado on Friday but the Dodgers missed an opportunity to reduce that even further by falling 4-2 to San Francisco.

Los Angeles (86-61) lost Ramirez for at least the rest of the week after he developed an irritated nerve in his back in Thursday's series opener. Ethier was forced to leave after doubling in the eighth inning Friday.

The Dodgers were already missing Matt Kemp, who is still rehabbing a sprained left ankle.

"(Ethier) rolled his ankle in Colorado, and it got sore the other day," manager Don Mattingly said. "It kind of flared up a bit today. I don't expect it to be anything other than having to give him some rest."

Nolasco (13-9, 3.14 ERA) will try to lift his short-handed club by improving on his 8-1 record and 2.07 ERA in 12 starts since being acquired from Miami on July 6. He's won a career-high seven consecutive decisions and is 4-0 with a 0.63 ERA in his last four outings.

He yielded one unearned run and three hits over 6 2-3 innings in his latest start Monday, an 8-1 win over Arizona. He had pitched 24 1-3 scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium before giving up Didi Gregorius' two-out double in the fifth.

"It's just nice being able to pitch for this team," the Southern California native told the team's website. "This is home for me, and that definitely helps. This is the team I always wanted to pitch for, so that helps as well. But this team is just unbelievable."

Nolasco is 5-3 with a 2.09 ERA in nine career starts against the Giants. He gave up three runs over 5 2-3 innings in his only matchup this season and did not get a decision in a 6-3 victory for Miami on June 21.

In this meeting with San Francisco, Nolasco will pitch opposite Tim Lincecum (9-13, 4.40), who will seek a fourth straight victory. The right-hander, who has a 3.60 ERA in his last four starts, gave up two runs over eight innings to Colorado on Monday but did not get a decision in a 3-2 win.

"There's no reason not to keep coming in here with a purpose," Lincecum told the team's website.

Lincecum allowed four runs and 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings in his most recent matchup with Los Angeles, a 4-2 road loss June 26. He was 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his previous four starts against the Dodgers.

San Francisco's Hunter Pence continued his hot hitting with his second homer in as many days and third in four games. Pence is batting .415 with six homers and 15 RBIs in his last 14 games.

He's 8 for 29 with four home runs lifetime against Nolasco.

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