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LOS ANGELES — While the long ball is getting all the attention for the Los Angeles Dodgers of late Mark Grace Jersey , they have also used an old reliable to get them in position to grab their sixth consecutive National League West title.Before the current series against the San Diego Padres began, Dodgers starters had a 3.06 ERA since the All-Star break, the best mark in the major leagues. That number had come in 57 starts and 332 innings.Then came a stumble Friday from right-hander Ross Stripling and the Dodgers fell 5-3 to the last-place Padres. Los Angeles’ lead in the National League West fell to 1 1/2 games with just over a week remaining in the season. Stripling lasted just 3 1/3 innings.Article continues below ...Carrying those Dodgers pitching expectations into Saturday’s game against the Padres is left-hander Rich Hill (9-5, 4.02 ERA), who has done his part during the team’s second-half pitching success. Hill is 7-1 since the All-Star break, posting a 3.55 ERA. In his 11 second-half starts, the Dodgers have gone 8-3.The Dodgers have not always had all aspects of their game firing at once until the last two weeks. The starting pitchers, though, had long since set an example for the rest of the team.The intensity has ramped up further as a Dodgers team that has played three National League Championship Series and one World Series over the last five years has that October look once again.“These are playoff games,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think you can see the intent on every single pitch. We smell the finish line of the regular season. There’s a lot of sacrifice going on. The preparation hasn’t wavered. The bottom line is we have very good players.”That sounds good, but the Dodgers are actually 1-3 in their last four games against last-place teams. They lost two of three to the Cincinnati Reds on their most recent road trip.The Padres would like to see rookie right-hander Jacob Nix (2-3 http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-david-ross-jersey , 5.75) rise to the occasion amid all that Dodger Stadium energy Saturday, and against an opposing veteran starter who has been a key member in the Dodgers’ last three playoff runs.Complicating matters for Nix is a sore hip that might need surgery in the offseason, although the right-hander is doing everything he can to avoid going down that route. He will not only be focused on the Dodgers on Saturday, but will have to be in lock step with his mechanics as well.“I don’t want to be compensating for something down the chain,” Nix said, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.Nix has just seven career starts, all since Aug. 10. His best outing came Aug. 28 against the Seattle Mariners, when he gave up just one run over 8 1/3 innings, but he has given up 14 earned runs in the three starts since then (6.19 ERA).Nix has never faced the Dodgers. Hill has two starts against the Padres this year, going 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA over 13 innings. He is 5-4 lifetime against San Diego with a 3.09 ERA over 10 starts. SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Steven Matz has developed a sense for when his pitching mechanics are in order.“When I’m going good, I can get in a good rhythm and just kind of keep going Kyle Schwarber Jersey ,” he said.The 27-year-old left-hander was feeling it on Saturday.Matz struck out a career-high 11 batters and the New York Mets went on to beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1 in 11 innings.“That was something that (catcher Tomas) Nito and I were really on top of,” Matz said. “We just had a good rhythm going. He was putting down (signs) that I was wanting. It just worked out good.”Wilmer Flores doubled to left off Giants reliever Hunter Strickland (3-4) to lead off the 11th. He went to third when Jay Bruce grounded out to second against the shift, and scored on Todd Frazier’s fly ball to left.Jerry Blevins (2-2) pitched a scoreless 10th and Mets closer Robert Gsellman worked the 11th for his ninth save.Brandon Nimmo made a diving catch in right field, robbing Austin Slater of a hit to end the game.The Mets have won six of their last seven games at AT&T Park.Slater was 2 for 5 and Evan Longoria homered for the Giants.Longoria hit his 15th home run leading off the bottom of the fourth on a 2-1 sinker Matz left over the heart of the plate. Nido was 2 for 4 with an RBI double off Giants starter Derek Holland in the fifth.Holland gave up one run in six innings of three-hit ball in which he walked three.Matz gave up one run in seven innings of three-hit ball.“It was definitely the best I’ve seen (Matz) all year,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said.After Longoria’s home run, the Mets held the Giants to one hit over the next eight innings.They didn’t advance a runner into scoring position over that stretch until 35-year-old outfielder Hunter Pence, who reached on a one-out walk off Blevins in the 10th and stole second with Joe Panik up with two outs.Blevins got Panik to fly out to left.“We couldn’t mount anything offensively,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.“We needed somebody to come through. It’s tough to get this kind of pitching and we couldn’t find a way to scratch out another run for them.”Mets starting pitchers over their last 13 games have combined for a 1.67 ERA (17 earned runs, 91 2/3 innings).“I try to build off those guys,” Matz said. “You see Zack (Wheeler) and (Jacob deGrom) and what they’ve done recently, we kind of all build off each other I think so I think it does help when you see those guys go out there and dominate like they do. “The beleaguered Mets bullpen combined for four shutout innings of no-hit ball. Going into Saturday Kerry Wood Jersey , Mets relievers were tagged for 26 earned runs in their last 11 innings, for a 21.27 ERA over that stretch.LEFT OUTLeft-handed hitting infielder Jeff McNeil sat out of Saturday’s starting lineup against the left-handed Holland. Manager Mickey Callaway said he’ll rest other left-handed hitters during a stretch in which New York facs left-handed starters in three of its next four games. The Mets have faced 37 lefty starters, matching their 2017 total. They’re 15-22 vs. southpaw starters.ADDED ONThe Mets recalled right-handed pitchers Tim Peterson and Eric Hanhold from Triple-A Las Vegas. More call-ups are expected to trickle in. “It’s going to be a September with a lot of players and a lot of moving parts,” manager Mickey Callaway said. . The Giants recalled right-handed pitcher Ray Black from Triple-A Sacramento. More September call-ups are expected in time for a three-game series in Colorado, which starts Monday, manager Bruce Bochy said.TRAINER’S ROOMGiants: SS Brandon Crawford was out of the lineup for a second straight day with a sore left knee, among other minor ailments, manager Bruce Bochy said. Crawford’s playing status is day-to-day.UP NEXTMets RHP Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 3.51 ERA) posted a 4.74 ERA in August. RHP Chris Stratton (9-7, 4.99) is 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two starts since an August 21 callup up from Triple-A Sacramento.
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