NL West Showdown

The Arizona Diamondbacks may be atop the NL West, but they have been knocked around by the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers all season.

The Diamondbacks look to increase their division lead and end their struggles against the Dodgers when they open a three-game series on Friday at Dodger Stadium.

NL West-leading Arizona (60-50) is one game ahead of Los Angeles (58-50) and 1 1/2 games in front of third-place San Diego, for its latest division lead since winning the West in 2002.

Despite being in first place, the Diamondbacks have won just two of nine games against the Dodgers this season, getting outscored 38-18 in the losses.

They lost two of three at Dodger Stadium April 30-May 2, and have dropped eight of their last 10 there.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Los Angeles -145 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -145 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

"It's really the one team that's handed it to us pretty much every time," Arizona manager Bob Melvin told the team's official Web site. "They're a good team. They've matched up well against us; they've played well against us. So we need to go in there and kind of change the mind-set. So yes, it is a big series."

The Diamondbacks managed only three hits in Thursday's 11-0 loss to the Padres, but that was only their second defeat in 12 games. Their other loss in that span was Sunday's 14-0 loss to Atlanta.

While Arizona has been dominated by the Dodgers this season, Friday's starter Doug Davis (7-10, 4.11 ERA) has been brilliant against them in his career.

Davis is 2-1 in three career starts against Los Angeles, giving up just one unearned run and 13 hits while striking out 18 in 22 innings.

At Dodger Stadium on May 1, he allowed one unearned run, five hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings, but was saddled with the loss in a 2-1 defeat.

The left-hander has not had much success away from Chase Field this season, going just 2-8 with a 3.66 ERA in 11 road starts. Those struggles have not entirely been Davis' fault, however, as his 2.71 run support average on the road is tied for the fourth-lowest amount in the majors.

After going 2-3 with a 6.34 ERA in six June starts, Davis went 2-1 with a 3.58 ERA in five starts last month. On Saturday, he gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings of a 4-3, 10-inning victory over Atlanta, as the Diamondbacks won for the fourth straight time with Davis on the mound.

The Dodgers lost to San Francisco 4-2 on Thursday, and have dropped six of eight.

"What bothers me is that the Giants beat us two out of three," Los Angeles manager Grady Little said. "It's over and we'll start the new series against Arizona tomorrow."

Juan Pierre was hitless in four at-bats on Thursday, and is just 5-for-37 (.135) in his last 10 games. Pierre is batting .435 (10-for-23) with three doubles and a triple lifetime against Davis, while most of his teammates have not found the same success against Friday's starter.

Jeff Kent is just 4-for-21 (.190) against Davis, Nomar Garciaparra is 3-for-17 (.176), and Luis Gonzalez is 2-for-11 (.111).

Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (7-1, 3.65) looks to bounce back from his first loss of the season against one of his favorite opponents when he takes the ball.

After allowing two runs in a 10-2 win over Houston on July 23 in the first complete game of his career, Billingsley gave up four runs and five hits in just 4 1-3 innings of a 9-6 loss to Colorado on Sunday - the day he turned 23 years old.

Billingsley, who made his first 23 appearances of the season out of the bullpen, has made eight straight starts.

The right-hander is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five games - three starts - lifetime against Arizona with the Dodgers winning each of those games. In three games - one start - against the Diamondbacks this season, he has yielded five runs in seven innings.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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