After going more than two months without losing a series, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in danger of dropping two in a row.
Ricky Nolasco hopes to help the Dodgers prevent that from happening when he tries to continue his recent success Wednesday against the lowly Chicago Cubs.
Since June 19, Los Angeles (77-55) went 18 straight series without losing one before dropping two of three to AL-leading Boston last weekend. The Dodgers avoided a third straight loss with Monday's 6-2 win over Chicago (56-76), but fell 3-2 on Tuesday.
The Dodgers last dropped consecutive series June 10-16, and at home April 29-May 8. They have an 8 1/2-game lead over Arizona in the NL West.
Clayton Kershaw struck out nine but labored while giving up two runs and seven hits over 5 2-3 innings Tuesday while Chicago's Travis Wood yielded a run over seven. Starlin Castro and Dioner Navarro each had two hits with an RBI for the Cubs, who snapped an eight-game slide to the Dodgers by winning for the eighth time in 29 contests.
"Unfortunately, I couldn't go deeper into the game for our guys, but I was just trying to limit the damage," Kershaw said.
The Dodgers hope to get back on track behind Nolasco (10-9, 3.42 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA over his last four starts. His best as a Dodger came Friday, when he allowed two hits without a walk in eight innings of a 2-0 victory over Boston.
The right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.53 ERA in nine starts since Los Angeles acquired him from Miami on July 6.
"He gets a variety of breaking balls over to get ahead in the count and then he can change speeds," manager Don Mattingly said. "When he gets in a bit of trouble, he has another gear. He doesn't seem to get rattled out there.'
A fourth-round pick of the Cubs in 2001 who never pitched for the major league club, Nolasco is 5-2 with a 3.30 ERA in nine starts against Chicago. He's won three straight starts against them, but has a 4.50 ERA during two 6-4 victories this year.
Rookie outfielder Junior Lake hit two of the Cubs' three homers off Nolasco on Aug. 1 at Wrigley Field.
Hanley Ramirez had three hits and Yasiel Puig added two Tuesday for the Dodgers, who have been held to two or fewer runs four times in five games.
Puig is 5 for 10 in the series following a 4-for-28 slump. He's 11 for 20 in five games against the Cubs.
Castro, meanwhile, is batting .333 during an 11-game road hitting streak.
Chicago starter Edwin Jackson (7-13, 5.00) is 0-2 with a 6.37 ERA in his last five road starts. He was staked to a 6-0 first-inning lead Friday at San Diego, but was charged with six runs and 10 hits in six innings of an 8-6 defeat.
"If you can't hold a six-run lead, it's real disappointing,' the right-hander said. "You don't get that done, it's just a terrible job, a terrible job of protecting the lead."
Jackson, who broke into the majors with Los Angeles in 2003, is 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in five starts against the Dodgers, but hasn't faced them since 2011.
The Associated Press News Service
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