Diamondbacks-Dodgers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated May 14, 2012
Just as they were getting on a roll following a lackluster stretch, the Los Angeles Dodgers are facing some uncertainty regarding the health of their top hitter. With Matt Kemp's chances of playing a 400th consecutive game unlikely, the Dodgers look to extend their winning streak to five Monday night against the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks. Kemp left in the third inning of Sunday's game against visiting Colorado with a nagging strained left hamstring and has an MRI scheduled for Monday. Kemp, among the NL leaders with a .359 average, 12 homers and 28 RBIs, set a Dodgers record for home runs in April but has not hit one this month in part because of his injury. He's also hitless in his last 17 at-bats. The outfielder wasn't in the lineup May 6 in Chicago but made a pinch-hit appearance to keep his major league-best consecutive games streak going. "I think I just need to let it heal for a little bit," Kemp said. "I don't know how much time that's going to take. I'll see how it feels later on tonight and tomorrow, and we'll go from there. "But I'm definitely not going on the DL. That's not going to happen. The team needs me. ... I think it's maybe two or three days. I know how my body is. I'm a pretty fast healer." The Dodgers (23-11) showed Sunday they can perhaps endure at least a brief absence from Kemp. They beat Colorado 11-5, scoring nine times after Kemp left and six after Andre Ethier was ejected for arguing a called third strike in the fifth inning. Ethier's replacement in right field, Scott Van Slyke, hit a two-run double in the eighth. A.J. Ellis had a career-high four RBIs and Bobby Abreu hit a three-run double as Los Angeles recorded a fourth straight win following a 7-8 stretch to improve to 15-3 at home. The Diamondbacks (15-20), meanwhile, have dropped nine of 11 overall and are 1-4 in their last five road games. They've averaged 3.0 runs and hit .236 during that 2-9 stretch after producing five hits in Sunday's 7-3 loss to visiting San Francisco. "As a team, we need to get moving in the right direction," manager Kirk Gibson told the team's website. "We are not playing good baseball. We need to right that part first." A matchup with reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (2-1, 2.56 ERA) wouldn't appear to help. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his last three home starts against Arizona and 6-1 with a 1.42 ERA in his last seven overall matchups. Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton is 0 for 18 with seven strikeouts against Kershaw. Kershaw has given up two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts, including Tuesday against San Francisco. But despite holding the Giants to a two-run homer and four singles over eight innings, his franchise record-tying 12-game home win streak and career-best 10-game overall run ended in a 2-1 loss. As they try to emerge from their funk, the Diamondbacks counter with Ian Kennedy (3-2, 3.91), who nearly upset Kershaw's bid to win the pitching triple crown last season. The right-hander tied Kershaw for the NL wins lead with 21, but is winless over his past three starts and has lost his last two. Kennedy endured his worst outing of the season Tuesday, giving up six runs - all on two Carlos Beltran homers - over seven innings in a 6-1 defeat to St. Louis. Kennedy was 3-0 with a 3.46 ERA in four starts against Los Angeles last season but is 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA in three all-time outings at Dodger Stadium.
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