Rockies-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers kept pace in the NL West race by taking advantage of a struggling opponent. They'll try to take over first place in the division during a visit from another such team.

With help from Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers will seek a fourth consecutive win Monday night when they open a series with the Colorado Rockies, losers in 16 of 20.

Los Angeles (59-50) completed a three-game home sweep of the Chicago Cubs on Sunday by prevailing 7-6 in a back-and-forth game. Ramirez singled home the game-winning run to keep the Dodgers one-half game behind San Francisco, which has also won three in a row.

"That's why I'm here for, to help this team win ballgames,'' he said. ''I'm not trying to do too much - just take what they give you - and that's the key for me."

Since being acquired from Miami on July 25, Ramirez has driven 11 runs in 11 games.

"We knew what we were getting when we got Hanley. He's a very special player, someone who can definitely change a game and is a difference maker," outfielder Andre Ethier said.

The Dodgers will try to keep their momentum going against the Rockies (38-68), who were on the wrong end of that three-game sweep by San Francisco and completed a 1-8 homestand with an 8-3 defeat Sunday.

"If you want to get better, you can't just put your head down," outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. "It's a tough situation that we're in right now. We have a lot of young guys on our team, and they are in a tough spot right now."

Colorado hasn't faced Los Angeles since winning two of three games at Coors Field from June 1-3. The Rockies were swept in three games at Dodger Stadium from May 11-13.

Dodgers wins leader Chris Capuano (10-7, 3.33 ERA) pitched in both series with different results. He gave up one run over seven innings during a 7-3 home victory May 11 but was charged with seven runs during a 13-3 loss at Coors Field on June 1.

Capuano's recent starts have mirrored the latter of those two outings as he's allowed a combined 11 runs over back-to-back defeats. He gave up five over six innings during an 8-2 loss to Arizona on Tuesday.

"I need to spend a little more time in the bullpen before the game, because right now my mechanics don't quite feel as good from the stretch position as from the windup," he said. "I'm rushing a little bit, and I'm just not making the same quality pitches."

The left-hander, 1-4 with a 5.90 ERA in his last five starts, is 1-4 with a 6.34 ERA in his last six against the Rockies.

In this outing, he'll pitch against Drew Pomeranz (1-6, 5.13), whose lone win came July 6. The left-hander allowed three runs for the second straight outing Wednesday and did not get a decision in a 9-6 loss to St. Louis.

He pitched four innings in that game and has made it past the fifth once in his last four outings.

"I really didn't have my best stuff," Pomeranz said. "I got to learn to pitch on days like today."

The left-hander allowed one run, four hits and four walks over 6 2-3 innings during his only start against the Dodgers on May 2. He did not get a decision in that 8-5 win.

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