MLB

Padres-Dodgers Preview

Two well-pitched games in this series have gone in favor of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are on the verge of sweeping the San Diego Padres.

James Shields could give San Diego the pitching edge in the finale - if he can keep the baseball from leaving Dodger Stadium.

Shields looks to improve to 6-0 and avoid giving up more homers while helping the Padres end a four-game losing streak Sunday.

After winning Friday's opener 2-1, Los Angeles (26-16) won 2-0 the next night as San Diego (20-24) was shut out for the second time in three games. The Padres have totaled three runs while batting .150 with four extra-base hits, five walks and 38 strikeouts during this losing streak that has matched their longest from April 22-25.

''We've been through this before, and these guys are going to get out of it,'' pitcher Ian Kennedy said. ''Our guys are too talented to go through a rut this long.''

The Padres' lone hit Saturday came when Yangervis Solarte led off with a single. Solarte was erased on Cory Spangenberg's double-play grounder, and no other San Diego hitter reached.

The anemic offense will put pressure on Shields (5-0, 3.74 ERA), who gave up two runs in seven innings and did not receive a decision in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs that marked the Padres' fourth straight victory with him on the mound.

The right-hander has surrendered baseball's most homers with 14, including 10 over his last 24 1-3 innings. Shields - who opened 6-0 with Tampa Bay in 2007 - can also be tough to hit, as evidenced by his NL-leading 75 strikeouts and ratio of 12.20 strikeouts per nine innings that is the majors' second-best mark.

He made his Padres debut at Dodger Stadium on opening day, giving up two runs with eight strikeouts over six innings in a 6-3 loss April 6.

Howie Kendrick is 15 for 29 with a homer off Shields, Adrian Gonzalez is 10 for 28 with two homers and Jimmy Rollins is 5 for 11 with one home run.

Los Angeles has produced six runs in the last seven games. Andre Ethier is 3 for 17 in that span, Kendrick is 5 for 26, Rollins is 4 for 24 and Justin Turner is 4 for 17.

Gonzalez is 15 for 31 with six homers and 10 RBIs against the Padres, with Los Angeles capturing six of eight meetings.

Rookie Joc Pederson has homered in both games, though he's batting .197 in his last 19 games.

"He's homered the last couple of days but kind of struggling a little bit," manager Don Mattingly said. "So I think it's going to be a constant learning curve with Joc and part of it is going through it."

Mattingly will give the ball to Carlos Frias (3-1, 2.55), who is 2-1 with a 2.82 ERA in four starts. He yielded one run in six innings in Tuesday's 2-0 defeat at San Francisco.

The right-hander has a 1.56 ERA in three career home starts. He has never started against the Padres, allowing one hit over three innings in three relief appearances versus them.

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