Diamondbacks motivated to dent Dodgers' postseason run

Jack Magruder, The Sports Xchange
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies on September 18, 2018 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies on September 18, 2018 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

PHOENIX -- The Los Angeles Dodgers ruined Arizona's season.

The Diamondbacks could do a little something about it this week.


The Dodgers knocked Arizona out of first place in the NL West with three consecutive comeback victories on the first weekend of September, winning all three on their final at-bat by the same score, 3-2.

The Diamondbacks are 5-17 since as they prepare to host the division-leading Dodgers in a three-game series that begins Monday at Chase Field.

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"I feel like that was an extremely tough series ... to give everything you have ... this team was invested and we were in first place, talking about good things happening at the end of this road," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

"It definitely staggered us. Have we recovered? I would like to say we did, but our play has told us that we have not."

The Diamondbacks left that series in third place, and the Dodgers climbed back into first with a three-game sweep of Colorado last week. The Dodgers (87-69) will bring a 1 1/2-game lead over the Rockies into final week of the season and also are only one game behind Atlanta for possible home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

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"There were a couple more gut punches in that Atlanta series that may have been some key blows," said Lovullo, referring to a series in which the Diamondbacks lost three of four the weekend after playing the Dodgers.

"It was a lot to absorb. The L.A. series is one that maybe a lot of people will see as a target."

Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.45) is scheduled to oppose Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray (6-2, 3.92) in the first game of the series. Kershaw has made 14 straight quality starts.

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While the Dodgers are contending for a playoff spot, there will be no lack of motivation on the Arizona side.

"It is hard to say you are going to pay people back in sports, because they are gifted athletes, too," Lovullo said. "But we should make it as hard on them as possible to do what they are trying to do.

"That will be my message to the guys. I certainly don't want to see any team celebrate on our turf. I watched it last year and it was painful, and I don't want to watch it again. We'll make sure we give everything we have the next several days."

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The Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in the NLDS last season, finishing if off in Arizona.

The Dodgers have won 15 of 22 games and have won nine of their last 11.

They have a franchise season record 225 homers, setting the mark on newcomer Manny Machado's homer Saturday night.

"We have great hitters here," Machado told reporters Saturday. "We're all confident. We know the team we have."

Machado, who had another homer Sunday, had one of the Dodgers' four homers in the critical series against Arizona at the first of the month. Matt Kemp won the third game of the series with a three-run homer in the eighth inning Sept. 1, and his two-run walkoff double ended the Sept. 2 game.

Kershaw will have one more start remaining after this unless the Dodgers have clinched a playoff berth by next weekend and opt to juggle the rotation to prepare for the playoffs.

If Kershaw does make two starts, he could put himself high on the ERA leaderboard because he is only 11 2/3 innings short of qualifying. The Mets' Jacob deGrom has a 1.77 ERA and will win the title, but Kershaw could nose out Aaron Nola (2.45) and Max Scherzer (2.57) for second.


Kershaw has won his last five decisions and has not lost since July 21, when Milwaukee scored three unearned runs in a 4-2 victory. He has a 2.22 ERA during his string of 14 quality start and has faced the Diamondbacks four times this season, going 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA.

Ray has won his last three decisions over 12 starts and has not lost since July 12. He has given up three runs or less in each of his last nine starts and two runs or less in eight of them. He is coming off a 9-0 victory over the Cubs in which he gave up one hit and struck out eight in six innings.

Ray has faced the Dodgers once this season, a 3-1 victory on Aug. 30 in the first game of that series in Los Angeles. He is 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA against them in 14 career starts, the most he has faced any opponent.

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