Shootout Tonight at OK Ravine

The dusty infield is empty except for the Mountain Man dressed in purple and the guy in the white hat from the Hollywood Hills. At about seven o'clock tonight (Friday), they will start walking towards each other and soon one and then the other will draw their guns and the three-game shootout will begin.

Colorado will give the ball to RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (14-12, 3.52 ERA) who is coming off a win over the Cardinals. ?

The Dodgers counter with LHP Randy Wolf (11-6, 3.22 ERA) who nearly pitched the club to the N.L. title in Pittsburgh, allowing two runs in 6.1 innings, but the bullpen let it get away for his 16th no-decision. He's been the Los Angeles' ace over the last half of the season, has started 32 times and has worked a team-leading 209.1 innings.

Randy Wolf is a sure thing to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series next week although Torre said he would not confirm that Wolf is his man for the playoff opener.

Wolf has never been to the playoffs in his 11-year career. He has pitched in one All-Star Game, throwing one inning as a representative of the Phillies in the 2003 contest.

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who has made just two appearances and one start since coming off a separated right shoulder, figures to be the Dodgers' starter on Saturday and the likely Game 2 choice.

There are two ways to look at the Dodgers' four-game losing streak that has prevented them from clinching the National League West title.

The skeptic might say the Dodgers are choking with two consecutive defeats to the Padres that followed two consecutive to the lowly Pirates. The optimist? He would say the Dodgers now have a chance to clinch at home.

A nine-game road trip that initially looked to be easy pickings for the Dodgers came to an embarrassing end Wednesday. They went 3-6 on a swing through Washington, Pittsburgh and San Diego.

When they square off tonight (Friday) against the red-hot Rockies, perhaps the only saving grace it's that the series is at Dodger Stadium, where they are an impressive 48-30.

The Dodgers had a day off Thursday to prepare for the series, while the Rockies thumped the Brewers 9-2 to pull to within two games.

NOTES, QUOTES
--CF Matt Kemp has 96 runs for a club that has the seventh-best run total in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Despite not having a single player over 100 runs, the Dodgers' tally of 767 trails the 1977 World Series team by just two runs. The highest-scoring club in team history was the 1962 Dodgers, who crossed the plate 842 times.

--RF Andre Ethier has a career batting average of .291, tied with Jeff Kent for eighth best in Los Angeles Dodgers history (minimum 1,800 at-bats). His career slugging percentage of .490 is seventh best. Mike Piazza has the best batting average at .331, while Gary Sheffield has the best slugging percentage at .573.

--RHP Chad Billingsley limited the Padres to two runs on two hits in six innings Tuesday, but he failed to snap his winless streak. Billingsley hasn't posted a victory since Aug. 18, going 0-4 with a 5.31 ERA in that span.

BY THE NUMBERS: .300
-- The batting average Matt Kemp needs at the end of the season to become the first player in Dodgers history to ever bat .300, hit 25 home runs, drive in 100 runs and steal 30 bases in one season. Kemp, who turned 25 on Sept. 23, reached the latest of those milestones one day later when his three-run home run got him to 100 RBI.

ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Hiroki Kuroda will not make his next scheduled start Saturday because of a stiff neck. The right-hander first felt neck soreness Tuesday while jogging at San Diego's Petco Park. He was expected to be the Dodgers' Game 2 starter in the NL Division Series, but that plan is now on hold. LHP Clayton Kershaw will start in Kuroda's place on Saturday.

--3B Casey Blake missed his eighth consecutive game with a strained left hamstring. Blake has been receiving platelet injections in the injured area to help speed recovery.

--INF Ronnie Belliard missed his second consecutive game with a strained groin.
 
 The Dodgers Roster
 
    ROTATION:
   LHP Randy Wolf
   RHP Chad Billingsley
   LHP Clayton Kershaw
   RHP Jon Garland
   RHP Hiroki Kuroda
   BULLPEN:
   RHP Jonathan Broxton (closer)
   LHP George Sherrill
   LHP Hong-Chih Kuo
   RHP Ramon Troncoso
   RHP Ronald Belisario
   RHP James McDonald
   RHP Charlie Haeger
   RHP Jeff Weaver
   LHP Scott Elbert
   RHP Guillermo Mota
   RHP Vicente Padilla
   
    CATCHERS:
   Russell Martin
   Brad Ausmus
   A.J. Ellis
   
    INFIELDERS:
   1B James Loney
   2B Orlando Hudson
   SS Rafael Furcal
   3B Casey Blake
   INF Jim Thome
   INF Juan Castro
   INF Mark Loretta
   INF Ronnie Belliard
   INF Doug Mientkiewicz
   INF Blake DeWitt
   INF Chin-lung Hu
   
    OUTFIELDERS:
   LF Manny Ramirez
   CF Matt Kemp
   RF Andre Ethier
   OF Juan Pierre
   OF Jason Repko

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