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News » Dodgers-Astros Preview 2009-04-21

Dodgers-Astros Preview 2009-04-21

Dodgers-Astros Preview 2009-04-21
After their offense keyed a perfect season-opening homestand, the Los Angeles Dodgers look to carry over that success at the plate to the road.

The surging Dodgers try for a ninth straight victory Tuesday night when they face the Houston Astros to open a nine-game road trip.

Los Angeles (10-3) won the final two games at Arizona to finish a 4-3 road swing, then went 6-0 against fellow NL West rivals San Francisco and Colorado last week at home.

The Dodgers, who haven't won nine straight since an 11-game winning streak from July 28-Aug. 8, 2006, have outscored their opponents 64-20 during the streak and hit .367 with 11 home runs on the homestand.

Los Angeles now heads to Houston, where it's won three in a row, to face the Astros (4-9), whose 39 runs are second fewest in the majors. The trip continues with stops in Colorado and San Francisco.

"I felt pretty good about this club leaving spring training. I just felt we were going to score runs," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, whose team leads the NL in runs (82) and the majors in batting average (.302).

Matt Kemp hit a grand slam and a solo homer, while Orlando Hudson and Andre Ethier each had three RBIs in Los Angeles' 14-2 rout of Colorado on Sunday. It was the third time the Dodgers scored 11 or more runs.

"You're not going to go out and score 14 runs every game, but we definitely do have the firepower to put some runs on the board," third baseman Casey Blake said.

Either was named the NL player of the week after hitting .391 (9-for-23) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last six games, while Hudson is 13-for-24 (.542) with five RBIs during the same span.

Kemp, meanwhile, has hit safely in all 13 games, batting .383 with three homers and 14 RBIs.

Either was 9-for-23 with two homers against Houston last season.

While the Dodgers are hitting the ball well, their pitching staff is second in the NL with a 3.16 ERA.

Clayton Kershaw (0-0, 1.50 ERA) has been a big part of the team's success as he makes his third start.

The 21-year-old allowed a run and one hit while striking out a career-high 13 in seven innings, but the Dodgers needed to rally for a 5-4 win over San Francisco on Wednesday.

"I'm fine with it," said Kershaw, who became the youngest Dodgers pitcher to strike out 13 or more since Sandy Koufax on Aug. 27, 1955, at age 19. "I mean, there's going to be a game down the road where I go five innings and give up five runs and get the win. That's just part of baseball."

The left-hander allowed three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-6, 11-inning win at Houston on July 1 in his only appearance against the Astros.

Houston counters with Russ Ortiz (0-0 6.23), who gave up three runs and five hits in 4 2-3 innings of the Astros' 6-3 win at Pittsburgh on Thursday in his first start since Aug. 20, 2007. He missed the 2008 season due to an arm injury.

"There's always the opportunity to build on something," Ortiz told the Astros' official Web site. "So I'll just get ready for my next start."

The right-hander is 8-9 with a 5.11 ERA in 21 games against the Dodgers.

Houston looks to bounce back after falling 4-3 to Cincinnati on Monday to drop three of four against the Reds.

Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee hit back-to-back homers in the sixth inning to give the Astros a one-run lead they couldn't hold. Geoff Blum added three hits for Houston, which is 2-5 at Minute Maid Park.

"We still haven't gotten the big hit," outfielder Hunter Pence said. "You don't have a lot of opportunities."

Berkman, who tied Craig Biggio for second on the Astros all-time home run list with 291, is batting just .205 this season, but .309 lifetime against Los Angeles.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 21, 2009

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