Dodgers look to get back on track against Padres

MLB

The major league leader in wins will again take the mound Friday, with Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias still not able to relax and savor what has been a standout season.

Urias (16-3, 3.11 ERA) will be on the spot in the opener of a three-game series at home against the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers’ offense is in a funk and the team is 2 1/2 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants as it tries to chase down its ninth consecutive National League West title.

In an effort to shake up the offense, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts moved Mookie Betts back into the leadoff spot Thursday, while Trea Turner was dropped to the No. 3 spot. It failed to work as the Dodgers fell 2-1 at St. Louis, while Chris Taylor dropped to 5-for-54 (.093) over his last 15 games and Cody Bellinger fell to 6-for-71 (.085) over his last 23.

“To add pressure, that doesn’t help, so I think it’s just the mindset of expecting good things to happen,” Roberts said. “The fun part, playing loose, playing relaxed, playing focused — I think you can do all those things together. I know we’re looking forward to getting back home.”

With the Dodgers returning home from a 3-4 trip to San Francisco and St. Louis, Urias’ recent run of success figures to come in handy.

Since the start of August, Urias is 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA in six starts. The Dodgers are 6-0 in those games. Going back to the start of July, Urias has a 1.86 ERA in his last 11 starts.

While the Padres tagged Urias with one of his worst outings of the season (six runs over four innings) on June 21, he made up for it with five scoreless innings Aug. 24 in a win at San Diego.

In 10 career outings (five starts) against the Padres, Urias is 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA.

The Padres enter with plenty to play for, holding a one-game lead on the Cincinnati Reds for the NL’s second wild card.

The path ahead for the Padres is daunting: six games against the Dodgers, 10 against the San Francisco Giants and three with the Atlanta Braves. Those clubs have three of the four best records in the NL.

The Reds, meanwhile, have 14 games remaining with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals, two of the three worst teams by record in the NL.

Joe Musgrove (10-8, 2.87) will take the mound Friday for the Padres, who have won three of their last four and have gone 6-4 since a woeful 2-12 stretch. Musgrove is 0-3 in five starts against the Dodgers lifetime, with a 4.21 ERA.

Adding to the sense of urgency for San Diego is that Friday’s game is the start of a 10-game road trip that also goes to San Francisco and St. Louis.

“I don’t think of it as a road trip or a homestand,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “Where we’re at (during) this part of the year, every (game) is crucial, critical, whatever term you want to use.”

–Field Level Media

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