Dodgers go for sweep of struggling D-backs

The Los Angeles Dodgers sport the majors' best record at 32-12, and they're 5-1 in extra-inning games.

Both of those marks have been bolstered by consecutive 10-inning defeats of the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers will look for a three-game sweep of Arizona on Thursday night in Phoenix in the season finale between the National League West rivals.

It seems there are differing opinions among the Dodgers on the extra-innings rule adopted for this shortened season, in which a runner starts each half-inning on second base. Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' ace and Wednesday's starting pitcher, isn't a fan.

"It's not real baseball, but it's fine for this year," Kershaw said Wednesday night. "And I hope we never do it again."

Outfielder A.J. Pollock said he's OK with it, though he weighed the pros and cons after that answer. Manager Dave Roberts, however, said he was a proponent of the extra-innings format even before this season, and now, after five wins, he really likes it.

"It does shorten the game. It adds the strategy for the fans, the managers and the players. And I think it's playing out pretty well, and our guys have really done a good job in that situation."

Roberts thinks it should be made permanent, though not for the postseason.

The Dodgers put their seven-game winning streak against the Diamondbacks on the line Thursday with right-hander Dustin May (1-1, 2.88 ERA) making his ninth starts of the season.

He's facing the Diamondbacks for the second time in his career after allowing three earned runs on four hits in one-third of an inning in a relief appearance last September.

The Diamondbacks (15-29) have lost 18 of 20 games and five straight. Manager Torey Lovullo began his postgame Zoom meeting with reporters by saying he doesn't want to sound like a broken record in trying to find words to describe his team's prolonged rough stretch.

"We've got to find a way to keep pressing on, executing and win these types of close ballgames," Lovullo said. "I think we have to raise the level of expectation."

Lovullo said it's difficult to imagine the Diamondbacks going through so many losses.

"It's hard to do what we've done. But dissecting it, we've been in just about every ballgame," he said. "You would expect a team that has lost the way we have over the past 20 days, that we'd be getting blown out of some games. But that's not the case."

Lovullo said the Diamondbacks haven't given up on this season, but that an evaluation of younger players who will be considered for roster spots in 2021 is underway.

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.44 ERA) looks for his first win of the season when he starts Thursday's game. It will be his second start since returning from the 10-day injured list with a back injury.

In years past, Bumgarner had epic battles against the arch-rival Dodgers when he was the ace of the San Francisco Giants. He has made 35 career starts against Los Angeles and is 15-14 with a 2.72 ERA against them.

--Field Level Media
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