Padres-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers may be anticipating a pair of key series that could be vital to them gaining ground in the postseason chase.

They'll also be wary of avoiding another letdown against the San Diego Padres.

With a key visit to San Francisco looming this weekend, the Dodgers will try to get back on track and keep from dropping a second straight meeting with the Padres on Wednesday night.

Los Angeles (73-64) trails the NL West-leading Giants by 4 1/2 games, and is 1 1/2 back of St. Louis for the league's second wild-card position.

The Dodgers open a three-game set at San Francisco on Friday, and host the Cardinals for four contests the following weekend.

Until then, they'll try to rebound from Tuesday's 6-3, 11-inning loss to San Diego (63-74) after opening this three-game set with a 4-3 win in 11 a day earlier.

"It's definitely frustrating to lose like that," said Clayton Kershaw, who allowed one run in seven innings. "But at the same time, we've been playing well. Every game has been close, and you've just got to keep grinding. It's September. It's put up or shut up. We've got to win games no matter what."

Production from Adrian Gonzalez certainly helps, and the first baseman is 5 for 13 with three doubles and three RBIs in his last three games. That's a dramatic improvement after he hit .182 over his first eight contests since being acquired from Boston last month.

Gonzalez is 11 for 22 with six RBIs in five meetings with his former team. He's also 3 for 3 versus Clayton Richard.

Richard (12-12, 3.74 ERA) has a 2.42 ERA while winning five of his past six starts, including three in a row. The left-hander has reached the seventh inning in six straight outings, including Friday's 5-4 win at Colorado. He was lifted with one out in the seventh after allowing three runs and two homers.

"The last few months (he's) just keeping the ball down," manager Bud Black said. "Pitchers are always evolving and Clayton isn't one to stand still. Early in his career he was a high fastball pitcher. Now we've seen a lot of ground-ball outs on pitches down in the zone."

Richard is 6-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 11 starts against the Dodgers, but he's 0-2 with a 3.79 ERA in his last three at Chavez Ravine. He did his part in the most recent outing there July 13, allowing two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 2-1 defeat.

Logan Forsythe, who is hitting .440 with five RBIs in his last seven games, is 7 for 19 on the road against the Dodgers this season. He came up big Tuesday, connecting for a go-ahead, two-run single in the 11th.

The Dodgers will give the ball to Aaron Harang (9-8, 3.76), who hasn't won at home since July 4. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.04 ERA in five starts since, and all have resulted in Dodgers losses.

That stretch started with a loss to San Diego on July 14, when Harang allowed four runs in seven innings while two of the four hits he surrendered left the park.

He's 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in four starts against the Padres this season after leading them with 14 victories last year.

Harang gave up three runs and five hits in five innings of Friday's 4-3, 11-inning loss to Arizona.

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