The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping their recent deals will help them win the NL West. The Chicago Cubs' trades this week probably won't pay off for years.
In a matchup of teams busy at the deadline for opposite reasons, the Dodgers take on the visiting Cubs in the opener of their three-game series Friday night.
After acquiring third baseman Hanley Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate from Miami on July 25, Los Angeles (56-50) picked up outfielder Shane Victorino from Philadelphia and reliever Brandon League from Seattle prior to Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline.
While Dodgers management is "in it to win it," according to team partner Magic Johnson, the club has not been delivering on the field. Though in a tight battle for the NL West lead, Los Angeles opens this set after totaling four runs and batting .161 in a three-game sweep by visiting Arizona.
The Dodgers have dropped seven of eight at home.
They hope Chad Billingsley (6-9, 3.89 ERA) can get them on track as he tries to win his third straight start. The right-hander has posted a 0.68 ERA in his last two outings following a stint on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. He had a 6.21 ERA while losing his previous five starts.
"(Pitching coach) Rick (Honeycutt) said in (Billingsley's) mind, there was nothing wrong," manager Don Mattingly told the Dodgers' official website. "At the end of the day, it was a good thing for him, it looks like."
Billingsley, who last won three consecutive starts from May 24-June 5, 2011, yielded four runs in six innings of a 5-4 road loss to the Cubs on May 4.
Chicago (43-60) arrives in Los Angeles a much different team than the one that took two of three from the Dodgers in May. The Cubs acquired a number of prospects by trading Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta on Monday, and Geovany Soto and Ryan Dempster to Texas on Tuesday in separate deals.
Dempster could have faced the Cubs in this series, but a trade to Los Angeles - his preferred destination - couldn't be worked out.
Alfonso Soriano also could have been wearing a different blue uniform after he told management he would have waived his no-trade clause if the Cubs wanted to move him to the Dodgers.
"I know they want to build a new team and young guys and that's good, but we have two months left in the season. It's not over yet," Soriano told the Cubs' official website.
Jeff Samardzija (7-8, 4.19) appears to be in the team's long-term plans, and for good reason. The right-hander went 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA in five July starts, throwing six innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 victory over St. Louis on Saturday.
Samardzija worked around six walks - three to open the game.
"I'm starting to learn how to pitch in those situations, and how to get out of them with minimal damage," he said.
Matt Kemp has done plenty of damage for Los Angeles since returning from the disabled list, batting .350 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 18 games.
Ramirez is 6 for 12 with a double against Samardzija, while Victorino is 2 for 4 with a homer and a triple.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro went 6 for 14 with three RBIs against Los Angeles earlier this season.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo will get his first look at Dodgers pitching in a Cubs uniform. He was 2 for 11 versus Los Angeles in 2011 while with San Diego.
Chicago won two of three in its last trip to Los Angeles from May 2-4, 2011.
The Associated Press News Service
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