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Dodgers eye first back-to-back wins since September 1-2

Sep 22, 2006 - 1:44 PM Arizona (72-80) at LA Dodgers (80-73) 10:40 pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) - The Los Angeles Dodgers have not won back-to-back games in nearly three weeks. That certainly does not sound like the resume of a playoff team.

The Dodgers put their slim wild card lead on the line Friday when they open a three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Los Angeles holds a half-game lead on Philadelphia in the National League wild card race despite not having won consecutive games since September 1-2. The Dodgers are just 7-11 since those victories, including a 3-4 mark on their current 10-game homestand.

After losing its first two games with the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates this week, Los Angeles avoided a potentially devastating sweep with Thursday's 5-2 triumph. Olmedo Saenz belted a two-run homer and the Dodgers' bullpen pitched four scoreless innings to secure the win.

Derek Lowe (14-8, 3.69 ERA) takes the ball for Los Angeles, which still trails San Diego by just one-half game for the NL West Division lead.

The veteran sinkerballer is 5-0 with a 2.90 ERA over his last eight starts. He did not factor into the decision in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to San Diego despite allowing just one run and striking out a season-high nine in seven innings.

However, Lowe is just 1-4 with a 6.08 ERA in eight lifetime starts against the Diamondbacks. He left his last outing against them on August 26 after getting hit in the hand by Chad Tracy's line drive in the fourth inning.

Having lost three of its last four games, Arizona counters with Claudio Vargas (11-9, 4.96). The Dominican righthander is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA over his last eight starts.

Vargas, who has lost just once in his last eight contests, did not earn a decision in his most recent outing Saturday. He allowed four runs - three earned - in five frames of a 7-6 victory against Colorado.

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