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Rockies-Dodgers Preview

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles confronts the National League's most potent offense without the major leagues' best pitcher Friday night when the Dodgers begin a three-game series at home against the Colorado Rockies.

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw, scheduled to start Friday, instead went on the disabled list with a herniated disk. Kershaw, who lost his last start Sunday in Pittsburgh, complained of back stiffness after the game. The Dodgers on Wednesday flew him back to Los Angeles, where he received an epidural Thursday after consulting with a back specialist.

Kershaw was making a serious case for his fourth Cy Young Award in six years. Kershaw led the majors with a 1.79 ERA, ranked second with 145 strikeouts, allowed opponents to bat .185 against him and conceded only six home runs and nine walks in 121 innings.

"To lose Clayton for any length of time is a big blow, but I think our guys have made a point that we're going to move forward and we're going to go out there and keep winning baseball games,'' manager Dave Roberts said. "We did that (Thursday, an 8-1 victory in Milwaukee) and that's our goal tomorrow."

The Dodgers filled Kershaw's spot in the rotation by acquiring right-hander Bud Norris from the Atlanta Braves for two minor leaguers in a five-player trade Thursday. He will start Friday night. Norris is 3-7 with a 4.22 ERA this season but in his past 29 1/3 innings, the eight-year veteran amassed 29 strikeouts while conceding only seven runs and eight walks.

"Obviously, where we're at with starting pitching and Bud's been pitching well -- I had him in San Diego for a bit -- he's really thrown well,'' Roberts said. "For them to give us a guy that can go deep into a game, can eat innings and get guys out, was huge. We're excited about it."

Said Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal: "Obviously, it takes a toll when you lose your No. 1 guy, especially a guy like Kershaw who's a presence not only in the clubhouse, but out on the field I felt like Bud Norris did a pretty good job against us this year when he pitched against us.

"I feel like he can be another addition, not only as a starter, but maybe once we get all the guys back, he can help us out in the pen, too. I feel like he's going to fit really good in this staff and on this team. But, it's always hard to lose your No. 1 guy."

Kershaw or no Kershaw, Los Angeles must defuse the Rockies' volatile offense. Colorado leads the National League with a .276 team batting average, a .469 on-base percentage, 418 runs and 402 RBIs. The Rockies also hold third in the NL with 104 home runs.

Those exploits helped move Colorado within four games of the New York Mets, who hold the second wild-card spot, and within 5 1/2 of the second-place Dodgers in the National League West.

Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who leads the Rockies with a .329 average, views the six-game road trip starting Friday night as pivotal in narrowing the distance between themselves and both the Dodgers and the first-place San Francisco Giants.

"This road trip is going to be huge for us," Gonzalez said. "We're going to play the two teams ahead of us. We've got to gain ground, and we all understand that we're going to be facing some tough pitchers. We've just got to continue to put some runs on the board, and expect better outings from the pitchers to give us an opportunity to win."

Gonzalez ranks fourth in the National League in batting average, with second baseman DJ LeMahieu three points behind him in fifth place, and third with 98 hits. Third baseman Nolan Arenado has driven in a league-leading 65 runs while hitting 21 home runs.

Rookie shortstop Trevor Story provides stability after the Rockies traded All-Star Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto last year. Story's 19 homers and 50 RBIs lead all major league rookies.

Story and LeMahieu missed two of the past three games because of a bruised right finger and a bruised left knee, respectively. After Thursday's off day, both are expected to be in the Rockies' lineup Friday night.

The Dodgers also have serious injury problems outside of Kershaw, whose absence further depletes a staff that has five other starting pitchers on the disabled list. An inflamed left rib cage put utilityman Enrique Hernandez on the disabled list Thursday. Outfielder Joc Pederson, an All-Star last year, could join them after injuring the AC joint in his right shoulder by crashing into the outfield wall at Milwaukee's Miller Park on Tuesday. Pederson's 13 home runs rank second on the club.

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