In The Hunt

Los Angeles Dodgers starter David Wells will get one more chance to square off against the team that gave up on him earlier this season.

Wells faces fellow 40-something Greg Maddux on Thursday night when the Dodgers wrap up a crucial three-game series with the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

Wells (7-8, 5.31 ERA) signed with the Dodgers (76-69) on Aug. 24 after being released by the Padres (78-66) earlier in the month. The 44-year-old left-hander went 5-8 with a 5.54 ERA in 22 starts this season for San Diego and gave up 26 runs in 16 2-3 innings in his final four starts for the team.

However, Wells is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts with Los Angeles and took a perfect game into the sixth inning of Saturday's 6-2 win in San Francisco. He ended up allowing two runs in seven innings in his first outing after a seven-day suspension for an animated argument with an umpire on July 7.

"It's nice to go out there and get the win and be a teammate again," he said. "I had a lot of time to think and put things in perspective. ... I was going to restaurants, taking it easy, watching games on TV, cruising around."

Wells, who was born near San Diego in Torrance, Calif., has already pitched against the Padres once since switching teams, allowing three runs in five innings without getting a decision in the Dodgers' 6-4 loss in San Diego on Aug. 31. He was originally scheduled to pitch Saturday, but is getting another shot at the Padres because Derek Lowe bruised his hand and missed his start on Wednesday, forcing Wells to move up in the rotation.

Wells is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three career starts against the Padres.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Los Angeles -125 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 7.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 60% of bets for this game have been placed on San Diego +111 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The Dodgers made up some ground on the NL wild-card leaders on Wednesday, winning 6-1 to move within 2 1/2 games of San Diego. Philadelphia and Colorado are also 2 1/2 games behind the Padres, who trail NL West-leading Arizona by 3 1/2.

The Padres are counting on Maddux (12-9, 3.68) to keep that lead from shrinking any more. The 41-year-old right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA over his last six starts and has not allowed a walk in 54 1-3 innings, spanning 212 batters.

Maddux holds the NL record with 72 1-3 innings without a walk in 2001 and also went 51 innings without a base on balls in 1995. He needed just 67 pitches to get through six innings on Saturday, allowing one run in a 3-1 win in Colorado - his 345th career victory.

"Greg was great," manager Bud Black said. "He was efficient at throwing strikes, moving the ball in and out, up and down, changing speeds - great game."

Maddux made 12 starts last season for the Dodgers after a deadline trade with the Chicago Cubs sent him to Los Angeles. He went 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA to help the Dodgers win the NL West.

He is 15-7 with a 2.75 ERA in 33 career starts against the Dodgers, including 8-6 with a 2.88 ERA in 20 outings at Dodger Stadium. He faced Wells on Sept. 15 last season and threw seven scoreless innings to earn a 3-1 win for the Dodgers. Wells gave up two runs in five innings and was saddled with the loss for San Diego.

The only other time Wells and Maddux met came on Oct. 13, 1995 in the NL championship series, when Maddux yielded one run in eight innings of a 5-2 win over Cincinnati. Wells took the loss, lasting six innings for the Reds and giving up three runs.

Since the start of the 2005 season, Maddux is 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in four starts against Los Angeles, including two this season. Luis Gonzalez, the Dodgers' 40-year-old left fielder, is 34-for-108 (.315) with 10 homers all-time against him and 39-year-old second baseman Jeff Kent is 26-for-81 (.321) with five home runs.

Kent homered on Wednesday, and rookie James Loney also connected for the fifth time in his last six games as the Dodgers won for just the third time in their last 11 games against the Padres. Chad Billingsley filled in for Lowe and threw six strong innings to get the win.

San Diego, meanwhile, lost for the fifth time in seven games despite three hits apiece from Khalil Greene and Kevin Kouzmanoff. Mike Cameron struck out five times and is just 2-for-25 (.080) over his last seven games.

by: Dave Michaels - – Email Us

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