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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, April 20th (All times Eastern)

Los Angeles Dodgers (10-3) at Houston Astros (5-8), 8:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Los Angeles - Ted Lilly (1-0, 0.00) Houston - J.A. Happ (1-0, 3.75)

(Sports Network) - Ted Lilly's neck looked just fine in his season debut last weekend. The veteran looks to follow up that outstanding outing this evening as the Los Angeles Dodgers begin a three-game series against the Houston Astros.

Lilly's first start of the season was delayed because of a strained neck and the 36-year-old finally saw major league action on Saturday versus the Padres. It was worth the wait for the Dodgers as Lilly gave up only unearned run over seven innings, scattering two hits and a walk to earn a 6-1 victory.

The left-hander has faced the Astros 15 times in his career, going 7-3 with a 2.64 earned run average.

The Dodgers dropped two in a row to the Brewers to begin the week following a 9-1 start, but rebounded to salvage the finale of the series on Thursday with a 4-3 win.

Matt Kemp continued his excellent start to the season with a solo homer in the fifth inning that proved to be the difference. He leads the majors with a .451 average and seven homers, while his 18 runs batted in are tied with teammate Andre Ethier for the most in the majors. Ethier also drove in a run on Thursday.

"I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, driving in runs and helping us win," Kemp said.

Aaron Harang gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings for the Dodgers, who had lost the first two games of the series in the Brewers' final at-bat.

"We could have gotten swept but we also could have swept them, too," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who will celebrate his 51st birthday today. "All three games were kind of nip-and-tuck the whole way. Today we were able to get the big outs."

The Astros could prove a challenge for the Dodgers tonight if Houston can repeat Thursday's offensive performance. The Astros avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the Nationals with an 11-4 win, getting three hits and a pair of RBI from both Brian Bogusevic and Jason Castro.

Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez also knocked in two runs apiece and Matt Downs drove in one while scoring three times for the Astros, who snapped a four-game losing streak overall.

Bud Norris got the win by allowing four runs on 10 hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings. He also knocked in two and scored a run.

"It felt nice," Norris said of his hit, laughing. "It fell in there and scored two, another big inning for us, and that's always nice."

More offense from tonight's starter, J.A. Happ, would be an added bonus, but the Astros would simply settle for the left-hander to continue his solid start to the season.

The left-hander pitched to a 5.35 ERA in 28 starts last season and opened up his 2012 campaign by beating the Braves on April 9. Happ allowed three runs over six innings, then got a no-decision against the Marlins on Sunday despite giving up a pair of runs on five hits over six innings while striking out eight.

Happ, 29, is 0-1 in three career games versus the Dodgers, including two starts, despite a 1.69 ERA.

The Dodgers have won their last four meetings with the Astros.

04/20 10:59:08 ET