1st-Place Dodgers Start Interleague Play With 3-Game Series In Seattle
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SEATTLE (AP) – Even without production from their most potent hitters, the Los Angeles Dodgers are having a very good week.
It could remain fairly pleasant at Safeco Field, considering the Seattle Mariners offense has been dreadful at home entering Friday’s series opener against the big league-best Dodgers.
As Los Angeles plays without top hitter Matt Kemp (hamstring), NL RBI leader Andre Ethier had been failing to step up. He hasn’t homered in a season-high 15 straight games and was in a season-worst 0-for-16 drought before delivering a two-run double in the ninth inning of Thursday’s 8-4 win in Philadelphia.
Even with Kemp out and Ethier struggling – he didn’t start Thursday for the first time in two weeks – the Dodgers (37-21) pulled off a four-game road sweep of the Phillies for the first time in 66 years.
“The good feeling we have about the way we’re playing’s going to carry over, and that confidence,” manager Don Mattingly told the team’s official website. “But you’re not going to really have any momentum against the next club. It’s gonna start all over.”
Jerry Hairston Jr. had two hits and two RBIs on Thursday and is batting .421 in his last 12 games for Los Angeles, which heads to Seattle having won eight of 11 on the road.
No team has played fewer home games than the Mariners (26-33), who are 9-13 at Safeco and play their next nine there.
They’re batting a major league-worst .193 at home while averaging 3.3 runs with 12 homers. On the road, they’re hitting .257 with 43 homers.
“When it comes to the home-road splits, you can’t argue with it. They’re real,” manager Eric Wedge told the team’s official website. “Over time will that get a lot better? I’m sure they will, because I think we’re a lot better.”
Wedge’s club is coming off a 5-4 road trip during which Michael Saunders hit .487 with two homers and five doubles. Saunders is batting .312 on the road with six homers and 19 RBIs, compared to .185 with no homers and one RBI at home.
Similarly, Kyle Seager has been very good on the road but awful at Safeco, with a .200 average and one homer in 20 games. He’s also coming off a solid road swing, batting .375 with two homers and 10 RBIs in his last seven games.
“This was a great road trip for us. We’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Seager said after driving in four runs in Wednesday’s 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
The Dodgers have lost four straight series against the Mariners since sweeping them in 1999. This is the first interleague series for Los Angeles, which hasn’t had a winning record against the AL since 2004.
Ethier hit .390 in his final 10 interleague games last year, and his only career three-homer game came against Seattle in 2009.
He’s hitless in five at-bats against Kevin Millwood (3-5, 3.90 ERA), who starts for the Mariners.
Millwood went 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA in his final four outings of May before stumbling in his first start this month. He needed 95 pitches to get through four innings Sunday as he allowed four runs, seven hits and five walks in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
The right-hander faced the Dodgers twice last season while with Colorado, going 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA.
Nathan Eovaldi (0-2, 2.84) makes his third start for Los Angeles since being called up from the minors to replace the injured Ted Lilly. Eovaldi gave up two earned runs in each of the first two outings, but the Dodgers gave him one run of support over 12 2-3 innings.