Dodgers Start Off Strong

The Los Angeles Dodgers have quickly turned things around after losing their first two games. The Pittsburgh Pirates, meanwhile, started the season in surprising fashion, but have since been sliding.

The Dodgers look to continue their strong start as they open a three-game series against the struggling Pirates at Dodger Stadium on Friday.

Oddsmakers have made Los Angeles -170 point spread favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (View MLB Sports Books). Our public betting information shows that 85% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -170 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Los Angeles (11-5) has won seven of its last nine games, and is 11-3 since starting the season with back-to-back losses. The Dodgers were outscored 11-4 in their first two games, but have outscored opponents 70-41 in their last 14 games.

They beat Colorado 8-1 on Thursday, as Mark Hendrickson allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings filling in for the injured Jason Schmidt.

While the Dodgers have been getting solid production from their offense and pitching lately, Pittsburgh (6-8) has been on the decline.

The Pirates opened the season sweeping three games in Houston, but have won just three of their last 11. They lost to Milwaukee 7-5 on Thursday, dropping both games of a two-game set with the Brewers.

"We're still trying to get back on track offensively," manager Jim Tracy told the Pirates' official Web site. "With what we've seen thus far, I don't feel like we have to take a back seat to anyone. I think we just have to get our complete game intact. We have parts of it intact, but we're not all the way there yet."

Los Angeles went 6-4 against Pittsburgh last season, including 4-2 at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent had three hits for the second straight game on Thursday, while center fielder Juan Pierre had his fourth consecutive multihit game.

After starting the season 9-for-50 (.180), Pierre is batting .444 (8-for-18) in his last four games. He is 11-for-19 (.579) with two doubles and two triples in his career against Friday starter Tony Armas (0-1, 13.50 ERA), who takes the mound for the first time in nearly two weeks.

Armas had been bumped out of the Pirates' rotation because of off days and postponed games, but he's hoping his second start will be better than his first. The right-hander gave up six runs, eight hits and five walks in four innings of a 7-5 loss to Cincinnati on April 7.

Armas also had a short outing in his last game against the Dodgers, allowing six runs in three innings of a 13-1 loss last July 28 while pitching for Washington.

He is 2-2 with a 5.16 ERA in six career starts against Los Angeles.

The Dodgers counter with Randy Wolf (2-1, 4.00), who looks to win his third straight start.

Wolf allowed three runs and six hits in six innings while striking out seven in Sunday's 9-3 win over San Diego on the day baseball celebrated the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut in the majors. It was also Wolf's Los Angeles debut at Dodger Stadium, after he spent the past eight seasons with Philadelphia before signing as a free agent in the offseason.

The left-hander has pitched six innings in each of his three starts, and allowed just one run and three hits in his 10-4 win over San Francisco on April 8.

Wolf is 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA in six lifetime starts against the Pirates, but hasn't faced them since April 7, 2004.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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