Rockies-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

A series with the Colorado Rockies was supposed to give the Los Angeles Dodgers an opportunity to move atop the NL West.

Instead, they're in danger of being swept at home by the Rockies for the first time in almost five years.

Chad Billingsley will try to help the Dodgers avoid the sweep as he looks to win a career high-tying fourth straight start Wednesday night.

Los Angeles (59-52) entered this series one-half game back of West-leading San Francisco on the heels of a three-game sweep of Chicago. Hosting last-place Colorado (40-68) next seemed to be an ideal chance to overtake the Giants.

So far, the opposite has happened, as the Dodgers have fallen 1 1/2 games behind after a 2-0 loss Monday and 3-1 defeat Tuesday. They've totaled nine hits against a Rockies staff that owns a 5.41 ERA, the highest in baseball.

Los Angeles hasn't been swept at home by Colorado since Sept. 25-27, 2007, and Billingsley (7-9, 3.74 ERA) will try to keep it that way.

The right-hander has a 0.89 ERA in winning all three of his starts after returning from an elbow injury that landed him on the disabled list. He had lost five consecutive outings with a 6.21 ERA before the stint on the DL.

"It's good to string a few together, and I'm just going to keep going," Billingsley said. "I've had good fastball command on both sides of the plate. And when you're doing that, it keeps the hitter off-balance and he can't sit on one side of the plate."

Billingsley, though, is 0-2 with a 6.38 ERA in his past three starts against Colorado.

Matt Kemp has also struggled versus the Rockies, going 4 for 25 with seven strikeouts in eight meetings this season. The center fielder is 1 for 7 in this series but owns a .357 average with two homers in 28 at-bats against scheduled starter Jeff Francis (3-4, 6.02).

Colorado is looking to win three straight for the first time since a season-high five-game run May 28-June 1, and rookie shortstop Josh Rutledge has been leading the way.

He is hitting .356 with six homers, nine doubles and 18 RBIs in 22 games since being recalled from Double-A Tulsa to replace the injured Troy Tulowitzki.

Rutledge came up big again Tuesday, doubling three times in the first four-hit game of his career while driving in three runs.

"He has played tremendously for us," manager Jim Tracy said. "When this guy squares a ball up, I can tell you it makes a different sound. It gets off the bat in a hurry."

Colorado may need Rutledge to continue his hot hitting with Francis struggling.

The left-hander surrendered six runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings of Saturday's 11-6 loss to San Francisco. That effort came four days after he also lost 11-6 to St. Louis, getting tagged for five runs in four innings.

"I've got to look at it honestly. I'm just not throwing the ball well enough," Francis told the team's official website.

He hasn't been much better in his last four starts against the Dodgers, going 0-2 with a 5.75 ERA.

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