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5


National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, September 7th (All times eastern)

Los Angeles Dodgers (73-65) at San Francisco Giants (77-60), 10:15 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Los Angeles - Josh Beckett (1-1, 2.92) San Francisco - Tim Lincecum (8-14, 5.21)

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to make some headway in the National League West standings this weekend, as they begin a three-game set with the division-leading San Francisco Giants on Friday at AT&T Park.

"It is a big series," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "This is September baseball. You're watching the scoreboard and it's going to be intense. This is why you play the game."

San Francisco enters the matchup holding a 4 1/2-game advantage on the Dodgers, who led the division as late as Aug. 19. Los Angeles, though, has dropped 10 of 16 games since and is now 1 1/2 games back of the second wild card in the NL.

Los Angeles is also just 5-7 since its blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox that saw them acquire Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.

Beckett will be on the hill in the opener for the Dodgers, trying to build upon his first win with his new club. After losing his debut, Beckett stymied the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, holding them to a run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out nine in the win.

"I've never really seen him pitch bad," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after Beckett's last start. "His stuff is pretty consistent. I expect him to be like this. He locates, changes speeds, he's not afraid."

Beckett has faced the Giants seven times and is 4-3 against them with a 3.35 ERA.

San Francisco, meanwhile, will counter with an enigma of its own in two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, who is just 8-14 on the year with a 5.21 ERA. Lincecum, though, won for the second time in three starts on Saturday in Chicago, as he held the Cubs to two runs and four hits in 6 1/3 frames.

"When I've had to dig deep, I've done it," said Lincecum. "I had a terrible August in 2010 and I got out of that. This first half was my terrible August, and we're still in our position. I just have to keep pushing hard and working in the right direction."

He beat the Dodgers back on Aug. 21 and is 7-5 lifetime against them with a 2.80 ERA in 18 games (17 starts). He is 2-1 in three starts against them this season with a 2.55 ERA.

San Francisco enters this series after losing two of three to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers, though, didn't help themselves any, as they dropped two of three to the lowly San Diego Padres.

"We've got to turn the page because we've got a big series coming up," Dodgers superstar Matt Kemp said on Wednesday. "And every series is a must-win, so we've got to go out there and play every game like it's our last one."

The last three series between the Giants and Dodgers have all ended in sweeps, with the Giants winning two of them, including a three-game set from Aug. 20-22. The two teams will close the season with a three-game set in Los Angeles.

09/07 10:35:56 ET