Series: Game 3 of 4

LA Dodgers leads 2-1 (as of 9/17)

Game 1: Monday, September 15
LA Dodgers8Final
Game 2: Tuesday, September 16
LA Dodgers6Final
Game 3: Wednesday, September 17
LA Dodgers8Final
Game 4: Thursday, September 18
LA Dodgers4Final
in 12

Dodgers 8

(79-73, 34-43 away)

Pirates 15

(64-88, 38-39 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 17, 2008

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    LA 000402101 8 18 2
    PIT 10114080 - 15 15 1

    W: J. Grabow (6-3)

    L: S. Elbert (0-1)

    Dodgers-Pirates Preview


    For much of this season, it looked like a team would back into the NL West title with the division leader hovering around .500. The Los Angeles Dodgers aren't having any of that.

    The surging Dodgers look to take another step toward a playoff spot on Wednesday night when they continue a four-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Arizona held the top spot in the NL West for most of this season as Los Angeles (79-72) struggled to get above the break-even mark. When the Diamondbacks started to slump, the Dodgers were unable to take advantage, losing eight straight late last month to fall five games under .500.

    With their season on the verge of slipping away, the Dodgers managed to reverse their fortunes and win eight in a row to get back in the race. Ending that run with a three-game sweep of Arizona moved them into first in the West and a stunning 14-2 stretch has helped Los Angles open 4 1/2-game lead over the Diamondbacks with 11 contests left.

    After Hiroki Kuroda shut down the Pirates (63-88) in Monday's series-opening 8-2 win, Derek Lowe limited them to five singles over seven innings as the Dodgers coasted to a 6-2 victory on Tuesday night.

    "We're doing, I think, what we need to do -- we continue to keep winning and don't worry about what anybody else is doing," Lowe said. "It's hard to get caught if you keep winning. That's our mentality, don't get lazy, don't get complacent and keep trying to win."

    Casey Blake, who fell a double shy of the cycle on Tuesday, has 10 homers and 23 RBIs in 48 games with the Dodgers.

    "When we got Casey Blake, it sort of became some glue we needed for this ballclub to mesh," manager Joe Torre said. "Just the way he prepares and goes about his business. I know you've heard the expression, he's a blue-collar guy who just goes and plays baseball."

    Los Angeles won its fourth straight at Pittsburgh and improved to 22-6 at PNC Park. The Dodgers have never lost a series there and are guaranteed at least a split in this set.

    The Pirates have dropped eight of 11 and 19 of their last 25 games.

    Outstanding starting pitching has played a key role in the Dodgers' resurgence, going 12-1 with a 2.26 ERA in the last 16 games. A major part of that success has been Chad Billingsley (15-10, 3.02 ERA), who looks to win four straight starts for the second time this season.

    The right-hander has taken another step forward in 2008, improving his win total and lowering his ERA for the third consecutive year. He turned in another strong outing Friday in a 7-2 win at Colorado, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings.

    Billingsley has surrendered three earned runs or fewer in 12 straight starts while pitching at least six innings in 10 of those appearances.

    In five career appearances -- one start -- Billingsley is 2-0 with a 4.22 ERA against the Pirates. This will be his first start versus Pittsburgh since a 5-2 victory on Sept. 21, 2006.

    Zach Duke (5-14, 4.84) hopes to avoid matching a career high with his 15th loss. The left-hander was unable to build on one of the best starts of his career, getting tagged for six runs -- two earned -- and six hits over 4 2-3 innings Thursday in a 6-0 loss at Houston. He threw a six-hitter in a 7-0 win at San Francisco in his previous start for his first victory since June 9.

    Duke is 0-6 with a 6.75 ERA in his last six home starts.

    He is 1-3 with a 7.28 ERA in five starts against the Dodgers, giving up 44 hits in 29 2-3 innings.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Gameday Matchup

     Los AngelesPittsburgh
    Current StreakL1W1
    Last 105-53-7

    Pitching Matchup

    Los AngelesPittsburgh
    C. Billingsley
    16-10, 3.14 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/27 at SF
    2.0 IP, 0 ER
    Dec = ND
    Z. Duke
    5-14, 4.82 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/25 at MIL
    7.0 IP, 1 ER
    Dec = ND

    Gameday Lineups

    NO.Los AngelesPittsburgh
    1. R. Martin, C N. Morgan, LF
    2. A. Ethier, RF F. Sanchez, 2B
    3. M. Ramirez, LF N. McLouth, CF
    4. C. Blake, 3B R. Doumit, C
    5. N. Garciaparra, 1B A. LaRoche, 1B
    6. M. Kemp, CF B. Moss, RF
    7. P. Ozuna, 2B A. LaRoche, 3B
    8. A. Berroa, SS B. Bixler, SS
    9. C. Billingsley, P Z. Duke, P