Series preview: Arizona Diamondbacks (15-21) at Los Angeles Dodgers (18-20)

Time: 7:10 MST, 4:10 MST and 1:10 MST

TV: FSAZ, Fox and FSAZ

D-Backs

Dodgers

Winning and losing in Major League Baseball is a fickle phenomenon.

Just ask the Diamondbacks.

In their last eight losses, the team has been outscored by just 11 runs, including four consecutive one run defeats.

Arizona had its chances in each game in San Fransisco earlier this week but failed to capitalize on its opportunities.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the D-Backs had the tying run in scoring position only to falter at the plate.

The World Champion Giants on the other hand took what Arizona gave them and scratched out three close wins like champions do.

Arizona will attempt to salvage its NL West road trip over the weekend in Los Angeles against an equally inconsistent Dodgers squad.

Friday night will see Joe Saunders (0-4, 5.72 ERA) take on Clayton Kershaw (4-3, 3.12 ERA) under the Chavez Ravine lights.

Saunders entered spring training in February as the presumptive ace for the D-Backs.

But the veteran lefty hasn’t lived up to expectations to say the least.

Saunders has only pitched into the seventh inning once this season, a game in which he gave up five earned runs on 12 hits.

In his sixth MLB season, Saunders signed a one-year deal with Arizona in the off-season and must drastically improve if he wants to see the same money in free-agency in 2011.

For the Dodgers, Kershaw is coming off back-to-back quality starts.

Against the Cubs and Mets, the Los Angeles ace threw 13 and 2/3 innings, giving up a combined three earned runs and earning two wins.

The Dodgers were scheduled to play a game in Pittsburgh Thursday afternoon, but weather didn’t allow it and the team flew back to California early.

Andre Ethier leads the team and is second in the NL in batting at .366.

The former Arizona State baseball player had his 30-game hit streak snapped last weekend against the Mets.

Although Los Angeles is sixth in the NL in team batting at .258, the Dodgers haven’t turned their hits into runs consistently enough.

The team ranks twelfth in runs scored in the NL at 140.

The D-Backs are fifth in the same category and actually have a much better run differential than Los Angeles despite having three less wins.

Arizona’s problems arise in tight ballgames. The D-Backs haven’t been blown out much this season but the offense hasn’t gotten timely hits when they’ve needed to.

No everyday Arizona player is batting over .300 with the closest being Stephen Drew at .282.

The D-Backs will likely get a chance to right the clutch ship against the Dodgers though.

Los Angeles’ bullpen has the third worst ERA in MLB at 5.12. Only the Astros and Tigers are higher.

So if a game is comes down to a last at-bat again, Arizona will be facing a bullpen ripe for the taking.

Saturday’s afternoon game on national television will pitch Josh Collmenter (1-0, 1.29 ERA), the newest addition to the D-Backs rotation, against Chad Billingsley (2-2, 3.91 ERA).

The game will be Collmenter’s first start of his career. In 14 innings so far this season, he has given up just two earned runs on eight hits.

In his last start, Billingsley took the loss against the Pirates, throwing seven innings of three-run baseball.

Sunday will see Ian Kennedy (3-1, 3.23 ERA), Arizona’s most reliable starter, take on Ted Lilly (3-3, 4.67 ERA).

Kennedy pitched brilliantly Tuesday against the Giants, pitching eight innings and allowing just four hits, but received a no-decision because of Tim Lincecum’s equally impressive outing.

Lilly is coming off a win in Pittsburgh after tossing six innings and giving up two earned runs.

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