for this game

Dodgers look to continue playoff push against rival Giants

Sep 29, 2006 - 1:15 PM LA Dodgers (85-74) at San Francisco (76-82) 10:15 pm EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) - When the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants face off, it is always intense. But on Friday, the Dodgers will have extra motivation.

Hong-Chih Kuo will take the ball for Los Angeles when it faces the arch-rival Giants in the opener of a three-game set.

The long-time foes will face each other in a season-ending series that many though would decide the division title. San Francisco, however, struggled down the stretch, with its aging roster failing to come through in September. The Giants will have to play the role of spoiler against their contending rivals.

The Dodgers remained one game behind first-place San Diego in the National League West Division and opened a two-game lead over Philadelphia in the race for the wild card with three games to play. A win by the Dodgers coupled with a loss by the Phillies, who are in Florida, will clinch at least a wild card spot for Los Angeles.

Rookie James Loney drove in a franchise record-tying nine runs with four hits, including two homers, as the Dodgers erupted for a 19-11 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday that kept them in control of their playoff destiny.

The 25-year-old Kuo (1-5, 4.12 ERA) has pitched well recently, going 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in six games - four starts - this month. In his last start, the lefthander allowed one run - none earned - and four hits in seven impressive innings in a 5-1 win over Arizona.

He will be opposed by Noah Lowry (7-10, 4.84), who has been struggling mightily. The 25-year-old Lowry had been having a stellar year until a late-season slump inflated his numbers.

Lowry is 0-3 with a 14.36 ERA in his last four outings. In his last start, he allowed six runs - five earned - and seven hits in five innings in a 10-8 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.

Claudio Vargas pitched 6 2/3 solid innings and Arizona took advantage of a wild pitch to post a 6-3 victory over the San Francisco, which lost for the sixth time in seven games on Wednesday.

Los Angeles enters the series having won four in a row after sweeping their three-game set at Coors Field.

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