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Dodgers Top Nats in Extras; Pull to Within Half Game of NL West Lead


After wallowing in the the NL West cellar for the most of the first half of the 2013 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have enjoyed a steady climb through the West standings and after another big win on Saturday, could be poised take over first place very soon.

Led by a stellar performance from starting pitcher Zack Greinke, the Dodgers took the Washington Nationals into a tenth frame with the score tied and 1-1. That’s when Hanley Ramirez broke the tie with a clutch RBI double and later scored on a Andre Ethier sacrifice fly to put the Dodgers up 3-1.

After holding off the Nats in the bottom half of the tenth, L.A. secured its 19th win in 24 games and its second in a row since coming back from the All-Star break. More importantly, the team that was once referred to as the most disappointing in baseball by many fans and bettors is now within just a half game of the division lead after seeing the Arizona Diamondbacks lose to the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.

The ball wasn’t bouncing the Dodgers’ way during the first few months of the season, but the pieces of a playoff-bound puzzle are starting to fall into place for the highly-touted Boys in Blue.

“We’re winning all kinds of different ways as the momentum has started to go our way,” manager Don Mattingly said, according to ESPN.com. “We lost a lot of these early in the year, but now it seems like we’re hanging in there, feeling like we’re going to win these.”

What’s also aided Dodgers in their impressive comeback has been the lack of a dominant force in the division.  Three of the West squads are under .500 and its leader, the D-Backs, continue to scuffle as losers of three straight games.

“This division, nobody seems to want to run away with it,” said Arizona’s Cody Ross. “It’s there for the taking.”

And with L.A.’s best starter taking the mound today in going for a sweep of the Nats, the Dodgers have a good chance to finally grab the West lead.

Today’s game between the Dodgers and Nationals features two of the game’s best hurlers as Clayton Kershaw (8-6, 1.98 ERA) squares off against Jordan Zimmermann (12-4, 2.58 ERA). The Dodgers haven’t given Kershaw much run support this year, but with the bats heating up lately, the prospect of a win for Kershaw looks pretty solid today. However, with Zimmermann going for the Nats, expect a low-scoring pitchers duel and for Washington to at least cover +1.5, even in defeat.

Of course, if the Dodgers want to jump into the West lead today, they’ll need a little more help from the slumping Diamondbacks and fortunately for L.A., Arizona has another tough match-up to deal with today as it hopes to avoid a sweep in San Francisco.

Madison Bumgarner (10-5, 3.02 ERA) takes the hill for the Giants – who are hoping to initiate their own season turnaround – against Arizona’s Randall Delgado (1-3, 3.92 ERA), who is just 6-13 in his short career as a starter. With the momentum and the pitching match-up in favor of the Giants here, I’d stick with San Fran to cover -1.5 in the win.

So, if these games go the way we think they will, it looks like the Dodgers may slip into first place in the NL West. With their recent play, it’s not all that surprising, but considering where they were just a month ago, it’s very much so.





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