Padres-Dodgers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 02, 2012
The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping a walk-off double by Adrian Gonzalez can build confidence and spur a hot streak. Gonzalez likely needs no extra motivation for the club's next series. Gonzalez is set to face his original major league team for the first time since joining the Dodgers in Monday night's opener with the San Diego Padres at Chavez Ravine. Gonzalez had mostly struggled in his first eight games with Los Angeles (72-63) since being acquired from Boston, batting .182 with a homer and six RBIs. Against Arizona on Sunday, though, he came through in the clutch. His second double of the game scored the tying and winning runs with one out in the ninth, giving the Dodgers a 5-4 victory. Los Angeles won its second in a row following a 3-8 stretch to remain within 4 1/2 games of NL West-leading San Francisco. "Sometimes that can get a team rolling," second baseman Mark Ellis said of the walk-off hit. "To build off it, you just got to have good at-bats.'' With a lineup featuring Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers seem like they should be getting plenty of good at-bats, but that hasn't been the case lately. They've scored four runs or fewer in six of their last eight games. "It's a matter of time before this offense gets clicking on all cylinders,'' Victorino said. "Sometimes it takes a certain time to get people going in the same direction.'' Facing the Padres (62-73) could get Gonzalez, Ethier and Kemp going. Gonzalez, a native of San Diego, hit .288 with 161 homers and 501 RBIs and was named to three All-Star teams while playing for the Padres from 2006-10. He was traded to the Red Sox prior to 2011, and when San Diego visited Boston in June last season the first baseman battered his former team, going 8 for 14 with a double and five RBIs in three games. Ethier and Kemp have feasted on San Diego pitching this year, with the Dodgers winning eight of 12 meetings. Ethier is batting .311 with three home runs and 20 RBIs, while Kemp is hitting .528 with six homers and 15 RBIs in nine games. The Dodgers will get their first look at the Padres' Andrew Werner (1-1, 3.00 ERA), who will make his third big league start. Werner has allowed two runs and four hits over six innings in each of his first two outings. The left-hander struck out seven without walking a batter Tuesday, but got charged with a 2-0 loss to Atlanta. Los Angeles counters with Joe Blanton (9-12, 4.95), who permitted three runs and 10 hits in 7 1-3 innings of Wednesday's 10-8 win over Colorado after going 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in his first four starts with the club. The right-hander faced the Padres in April while pitching for Philadelphia, and gave up six runs - three earned - in six innings of a 6-1 loss. Chase Headley had an RBI double with a pair of walks in that game. Headley had four hits and a career-best six RBIs in Sunday's 11-10 loss to Colorado, San Diego's third defeat in five games following an eight-game winning streak. The third baseman, who hit his 23rd homer Sunday, is batting .356 with 13 RBIs in his last 11 contests and is tied for the major league lead with 15 home runs since the All-Star break. "We have seen the growth of the player this year,'' Padres manager Bud Black said. Headley has five homers and 14 RBIs against the Dodgers this season.
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