The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the season with lofty expectations thanks to a high-priced and star-laden roster. The injury-plagued club, however, is last in the NL West and on the verge of its longest losing streak in nearly five years.
Los Angeles will try to avoid that dubious achievement when it faces another cellar dweller, the more frugal Miami Marlins, in Friday night's opener at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers joined the New York Yankees this offseason as the second team in major league history to top $200 million in payroll but so far they haven't gotten much for their money. Los Angeles is seven games below .500 for the first time since Aug. 29, 2011, after getting swept at home by Arizona earlier this week.
The Dodgers (13-20) fell to 0-7 this month by blowing a two-run lead in Wednesday's series finale, a 3-2 defeat. Los Angeles has a 5.43 ERA during its skid and has plated three runs or fewer six times.
"When we pitch good, we don't hit. When we hit, we don't pitch good," outfielder Matt Kemp said. "It's not the manager's fault. He doesn't go up there and swing the bat for us, pitch for us, steal bases, or do the base running."
The absence of former Marlins star Hanley Ramirez hasn't helped, and Adrian Gonzalez is day-to-day after leaving Wednesday's game with a strained neck muscle. Infielders Mark Ellis and Jerry Hairston Jr., and pitchers Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Scott Elbert and Stephen Fife all join Ramirez on the disabled list.
Gonzalez, who is batting .343 with a team-best 23 RBIs, thought he would play in the series opener.
"I'll be all right," he told the team's website. "I'll be ready to go Friday."
If Gonzalez can play, he'll try to help the Dodgers avoid their first eight-game losing streak since Aug. 22-29, 2008. They're also trying to avoid matching their longest home skid from last season, a five-gamer from May 28-June 11.
Rookie right-hander Matt Magill (0-0, 7.88 ERA) will try to do his part by rebounding from a miserable outing.
Magill gave up two runs over 6 2-3 innings against Milwaukee in his major league debut April 27, but didn't make it out of the second inning Saturday in San Francisco. He was charged with five runs, six hits and four walks in a 10-9 loss.
Magill will next face a Miami team that has the NL's worst record and has tied the second-worst start in franchise history. The Marlins (10-25) arrive in Los Angeles after being outscored 11-1 during a three-game sweep in San Diego.
Miami, which reduced its payroll from $90 to around $45 million before the season, totaled 17 hits at Petco Park and owns one of the worst batting averages in the majors at .225.
"It's disappointing because believe me, everyone in that (locker room) is trying to get hits and score runs. Right now we are in a funk, but that can change quick," manager Mike Redmond said.
Jose Fernandez (1-2, 3.48) didn't need too much help from his teammates while earning his first major league win Saturday. The rookie right-hander allowed one hit over seven innings and struck out a career-high nine in a 2-0 victory over Philadelphia. He has received 10 total runs of support in his six starts.
Los Angeles has won seven of 10 over the Marlins and four of six at home.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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