Mat Latos shut down the Los Angeles Angels in his Dodgers debut to make a great first impression on manager Don Mattingly.
Five weeks later, he's simply trying to hang onto his spot in the starting rotation.
The NL West leaders have done just fine lately despite Latos' struggles and seek a sixth straight win and three-game sweep of the Angels on Wednesday night in Anaheim.
The Dodgers (80-58) acquired Latos (4-9, 4.92 ERA) from Miami at the trade deadline to provide depth behind fellow starters Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. The right-hander was solid in his first outing with the club Aug. 2, allowing one run in six innings of a 5-3, 10-inning win over the Angels.
Latos hasn't gotten out of the fifth in any of his four starts since, though, going 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA. If it weren't for Latos' quality outing against the Angels, Mattingly might have skipped his turn.
"That's pretty much the reason (for keeping Latos in the rotation)," Mattingly told MLB's official website. "He hasn't pitched as well as he's capable of, that's for sure. I think he would admit that."
One of the Dodgers' two losses over their last 15 games came in Latos' start against San Diego on Thursday. They've won all five since to move a season-high 22 over .500.
The Dodgers maintained their 8 1/2-game lead on San Francisco in the West with Tuesday's 6-4 win over the fading Angels (69-69). Justin Ruggiano led off the game with a homer before Kershaw pitched seven solid innings to win his eighth straight decision.
"I feel good about the way we're playing," Mattingly said. "You can't ask anything more than your guys coming ready to play."
It's a wonder what Angels manager Mike Scioscia is asking of his players. The Angels had a two-game lead atop the AL West on July 22, but they're 15-29 since and are 5 1/2 games behind Houston while trailing Texas by 4 1/2 for the second wild card.
Mike Trout went hitless Tuesday and is 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts in his last four against the Dodgers. David Freese had three of the Angels' six hits, and Kole Calhoun is batting .406 during a seven-game hitting streak after homering.
"Obviously, you want things to go your way, but it's not right now," said Calhoun, who also struck out three times. "I got plenty of pitches to hit in each at-bat, and you've got to put those balls in play."
Garrett Richards (13-10, 3.77) gets the ball looking to snap out of his own slump. Richards allowed 12 runs in 12 innings over his previous two starts before giving up two in six innings of Friday's 5-2 win over Texas, but he struggled with his command while hitting a batter and walking a season-high five.
"It didn't look like his release point was there. Garrett usually maintains his stuff," Scioscia said. "It was one of the few games where he got out of sync."
The right-hander didn't have any issues the last time he faced the Dodgers and pitched a five-hit shutout Aug. 4, 2014.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has missed the last three with inflammation in his left shoulder and plans to rest at least a few more games.