Diamondbacks-Dodgers Preview 2009-09-03

As scheduled, Jon Garland will be taking the mound in the series finale between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

But instead of pitching for a losing team playing out the rest of the season, he'll be taking the ball for a division leader hoping to make a run for the World Series.

Garland is set to make his Los Angeles debut Thursday night against the Diamondbacks, the team he was traded from three days ago.

Looking to bolster their rotation for a playoff push, the NL West-leading Dodgers (79-55) acquired Garland (8-11, 4.29 ERA) from Arizona for a player to be named later just ahead of Monday's midnight deadline for postseason eligibility.

Garland struggled at times with the Diamondbacks (61-73), but has been pitching better lately, going 4-3 with a 3.53 ERA in his last 10 starts. In his final start for Arizona on Saturday, the right-hander gave up five hits in seven innings of a 9-0 win over Houston.

"The last two months I've really felt on top of my game," he said.

While Garland is getting acquainted with his new teammates, his first start with the Dodgers will come against a familiar opponent. The 10-year veteran signed as a free agent with the Diamondbacks in January and made 27 starts for them before being traded.

"There's definitely going to be some shock - just try to keep your emotions in check," Garland said.

This will be Garland's first start against the Diamondbacks since 2005, and he's 1-1 with an 11.70 ERA in two career starts against them.

The Dodgers lost to Arizona 4-1 on Wednesday to drop two of the first three games in this series. Los Angeles' lead atop the West was cut to 4 1/2 games over Colorado, and it fell into a tie with St. Louis for the best record in the league.

The Dodgers have scored the fourth-most runs in the NL (640), but their offense has been a bit of a concern lately. They had just one extra-base hit Wednesday, and have plated three runs or fewer in five of seven games.

While Los Angeles is sputtering a bit, Arizona has won six of seven.

Rookie Brandon Allen hit a two-run homer Wednesday for the Diamondbacks, who had lost nine of 10 at Dodger Stadium prior to this series.

In the finale, Billy Buckner (2-5, 8.63) is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Reno to take Garland's place in the Diamondbacks' rotation.

After going 2-5 with a 7.85 ERA in seven starts for Arizona in May and June, Buckner was sent to the minors. While having little success in the majors, the right-hander showed improvement in the minors, going 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA in his final nine starts with the Aces.

"I think Buckner went down to Triple-A and pitched well enough to deserve another opportunity," manager A.J. Hinch told the Diamondbacks' official Web site. "I just think he's earned it. We'll give him the first chance. We have other candidates."

Although he struggled with Arizona earlier this year, Buckner's best start of the season came against the Dodgers on June 1, when he allowed four hits in six innings of a 3-2 victory. It was vastly different than his first outing of the year against Los Angeles on April 11, when he permitted five runs in two-thirds of an inning in relief.

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 3, 2009