April 20, 2014

LOS ANGELES -- A three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday could go a long way for the Los Angeles Dodgers as they get ready to embark on a 10-game road swing.

After an off-day Thursday, Los Angeles opens a three-game set against former manager Don Mattingly and the Miami Marlins, who posted a four-game sweep at Dodger Stadium earlier this season. The Dodgers follow that by visiting the New York Yankees for three games (Sept. 12-14) before capping their trip with a four-game series in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks (Sept. 15-18).

The Dodgers will play 17 straight games before getting another day off.

Manager Dave Roberts acknowledged how taxing the run of contests can be on his starting rotation and his bullpen. However, Roberts is confident his club, which currently leads the San Francisco Giants by four games in the National League West, can weather whatever the baseball Gods can throw at them.

"It helps to have a bunch of arms out there," said Roberts, referring to the September call-ups that allowed him to expand his pitching staff to 18. "The start that Kenta (Maeda) gave us (Monday) was certainly big. But now it's a lot easier to mix and match guys and kind of be really mindful of their usage. We're in a good place but after that we've got (17) straight games. But we've got some numbers."

Rookie pitcher Brock Stewart (0-2, 7.94 ERA) will start Wednesday's game against the Diamondbacks. Stewart will continue a Dodgers trend of using their young arms to start games in large part due to injuries.

"(Wednesday) we have another rookie that we're going to have to look at on film and figure out a way to beat him. We've got to get one game in this series," Arizona manager Chip Hale said.

The Dodgers are starting four consecutive rookies for the second week in a row. Jose De Leon performed Sunday, Maeda worked Monday and Ross Stripling did the honors Tuesday. All three won.

From Aug. 27-31, Los Angeles started Julio Urias, Stewart, Maeda and Stripling.

It was the first time the club started first-year pitchers in four straight games since Sept. 8-10, 1952, when the club went with Ken Lehman, Bill Loes, Ray Moore and Johnny Rutherford.

Stewart, who will be facing the Diamondbacks for the first time, will oppose Arizona's Robbie Ray (7-12, 4.36 ERA).

Stewart made his last start for the Dodgers on Aug. 28, when he limited the Chicago Cubs to two hits with a career-high eight strikeouts in five scoreless innings but did not factor into the decision in a 1-0 Los Angeles win.

Ray also received a non-decision in his last outing on Sept. 2, when the Colorado Rockies tagged him for six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Ray is 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA in six career starts against the Dodgers. Ray beat the Dodgers the last time he faced them on July 17, striking out seven on a four-hitter in seven shutout innings.

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