The Los Angeles Dodgers' stunning blockbuster trade is the boldest move yet in what has seemingly turned into a win-at-all-costs approach.
Adrian Gonzalez is in the lineup batting cleanup Saturday night as Los Angeles sends Clayton Kershaw to the mound seeking a fifth win in the last six meetings with the visiting Miami Marlins.
Reports surfaced during the early evening hours Friday that the Dodgers claimed Gonzalez and pitcher Josh Beckett off waivers from Boston this week. That led to a massive trade sending Gonzalez, Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for James Loney, top pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, infielder Ivan DeJesus and outfielder Jerry Sands.
The Dodgers are taking a huge financial risk by adding high-priced players due a total of $261 million from 2013-2018, though Boston is expected to supplement at least a small portion of the cost. Los Angeles has already acquired Hanley Ramirez - under contract for roughly $38 million through 2014 - in a trade with Miami, plus former Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino.
"We continue to do everything in our power to strengthen our team for the stretch drive in an effort to reach the postseason," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said in a statement. "This trade today exemplifies ownership's commitment to making the team as good as possible not only for 2012 but for many seasons to come."
Los Angeles (68-58) remained three games behind NL West-leading San Francisco and 1 1/2 games back of St. Louis for the league's second wild-card spot after Friday's 11-4 win over the Marlins.
Andre Ethier went 4 for 4 with a three-run homer and Ramirez added a two-run shot, though the news wasn't all good as the red-hot Chad Billingsley exited in the fourth inning with a sore right elbow.
Pitching just as well of late is the team's ace left-hander.
Kershaw (11-7, 2.87 ERA) has a 1.88 ERA over his last five outings, but saw his four-start winning streak came to an end Monday. He dropped a 2-1 duel to San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner after giving up two runs and striking out 10 in eight innings.
"When he pitches like that, you've got to win those games,'' catcher A.J. Ellis said. "He was outstanding once again, and he's getting stronger as the year goes on.''
Kershaw is 3-1 with a 2.41 ERA in five career starts versus the Marlins, tossing a two-hit shutout May 29, 2011, before giving up two runs and three hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-2 road win this Aug. 10.
Miami (57-69) has dropped three straight, scoring six runs combined in those contests. Jose Reyes hit a two-run homer Friday and Giancarlo Stanton's solo shot was his 27th.
The Marlins' struggling offense will look to provide Josh Johnson will a little more help.
Johnson (7-10, 3.73) has dropped three straight starts, though he's gotten only three runs of support in 21 innings. He gave up three runs in seven innings of a 3-2 loss to Colorado on Sunday, dropping to 2-3 with a 1.99 ERA in his last six outings.
"JJ pitched extremely well,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He was outstanding.''
The right-hander hasn't faced the Dodgers since 2010, but he's 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last three starts against them.