Diamondbacks-Dodgers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 29, 2012
The Los Angeles Dodgers are back in first place in the NL West. The Arizona Diamondbacks, though, aren't going away. The Dodgers open a three-game series at home against the Diamondbacks on Monday night. Los Angeles swept San Francisco in a three-game series over the weekend, recording back-to-back shutouts, including a 4-0 win Sunday, to move into a tie with the Giants atop the division. Besides climbing the standings, the two shutouts provided a measure of revenge for the Dodgers after they failed to score while being swept in a three-game series at AT&T Park in late June. Los Angeles (56-47), which has won eight of 11, is looking good since the return of Matt Kemp and the addition of Hanley Ramirez, who was acquired from the Marlins last week and recorded his seventh RBI in five games Sunday. While Ramirez is enjoying a change of scenery, Kemp has been solid since coming off the disabled list. He went 2 for 5 on Sunday after recording four hits Saturday and is batting .324 since returning from the DL. "We understand this is our year. There's no excuses," said Clayton Kershaw, who earned his second shutout of the season Sunday. "Everybody's doing everything they can to put us in the right place to win. We just have to go out there and play now." As well as the Dodgers played over the weekend, the Diamondbacks (51-51) lurk 4 1/2 games back. Arizona took three of four from Los Angeles earlier this month and is 5-4 in the season series. The Diamondbacks begin a 10-game road trip Monday after settling for a split of four games at home with the New York Mets on Sunday, getting four-hit in a 5-1 defeat. Arizona's offense has been inconsistent recently, scoring two or fewer runs in three of the last five games. In the other two, it scored 11 and six, respectively. The Diamondbacks will need more consistency to emerge successful on this road trip, which also includes visits to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. "We've got a rough road trip coming up,'' manager Kirk Gibson said. ''The Dodgers had a pretty good series this weekend and are going to be flying high in their park. It's going to be very challenging.'' The Diamondbacks expect to have Chris Johnson available after picking him up in a trade with Houston on Sunday. He was hitting .279 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs in 92 games for the Astros this season. He is 0 for 4 against Aaron Harang (7-5, 3.39 ERA), who looks to close out a solid month Monday. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA in July. He gave up two runs and two hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-2, 12-inning victory over St. Louis on Wednesday. Harang was charged with five runs and nine hits, including a home run, in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-7 win over Arizona on May 22, although he didn't factor in the decision. He was opposed by Trevor Cahill (8-9, 3.86), whom he faces again. Overall, Harang is 3-6 with a 2.42 ERA versus the Diamondbacks. He's had trouble with several Arizona players, including Chris Young, who is 6 for 19 with three homers, and Lyle Overbay, who is 11 for 24 with five doubles. Harang may not have much room for error as Cahill has gone 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA against the Dodgers. After receiving no decision opposite Harang in May, he gave up three runs and allowed two homers in seven innings of a 5-3 win July 7. Cahill has lost four of his last six decisions overall and surrendered four runs in 6 2-3 innings in a 4-2 loss to Colorado on Wednesday.
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