Hobbled Dodgers return home to face Giants

Though they scuffled a bit on their recent six-game road trip, the Dodgers still return home atop the National League West. However, they'll need to quickly get back on track or risk losing ground to the rival Giants.

The possibility of Matt Kemp missing his first game since 2007 is also looming for Los Angeles, which begins a three-game series tonight versus San Francisco.

The Dodgers won three straight at home over the Nationals before hitting the road for six in a row at Colorado and the Chicago Cubs. They came away with only two wins over that trek, securing a sub-.500 mark on the swing with Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Cubs in 11 innings.

While Juan Rivera hit a two-run homer for the Dodgers, Javy Guerra blew his third save of the season and Jamey Wright walked in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th.

"Everything was there. I just made bad pitches," said Guerra, who is 1-3 on the season with a 5.84 earned run average and eight saves.

Kemp did not start due to a tight left hamstring, but did pinch-hit in the seventh inning to extend his MLB-best streak of consecutive games played to 392. He hasn't missed a game since Aug. 18, 2007, but it is possible he could sit out tonight's opener.

"The streak does mean something to me, to play every day, but still I don't want to do something stupid to put my teammates in a situation where they lose me for one or two weeks," Kemp told his team's website. "It could be only one day and maybe this is the day and I can get back to play San Francisco. It feels weird watching the team play."

The Dodgers certainly don't want to lose Kemp for an extended period of time. He leads all of baseball with 12 homers and is among the National League leaders with a .388 average and 27 RBI.

The Dodgers also lost infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. to a strained left hamstring in Sunday. Hairston, who is batting .315, had been filling in at third for Juan Uribe, who is out with a left wrist ailment.

That could leave the offense shorthanded tonight behind starter Ted Lilly, who has been excellent over his first four starts while winning his first three decisions to begin a season for the first time in his career.

The 36-year-old is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA, but did leave his last start after six innings due to a right oblique strain. The left-handed Lilly allowed two runs, four hits and a walk in beating the Rockies on Tuesday.

Lilly is 3-4 with a 5.81 ERA in nine career starts versus the Giants, who he hasn't beaten since June 30, 2008 while with the Cubs. He has lost each of his past three starts against them with a 9.00 ERA.

The Giants, who trail the Dodgers by four games for first place in the NL West, counter with a left-hander of their own in Barry Zito, who is looking for his first decision since beginning the season with a four-hit shutout of the Rockies on April 9.

Zito has made four starts since that win and has produced a 1.76 ERA on the season, but did struggle last time out on Wednesday versus the Marlins. The 33-year-old lasted just 3 2/3 innings and matched a career high with seven walks, also yielding two hits but limiting the damage to only two runs -- one earned -- in his club's eventual 3-2 loss.

Zito is 6-8 with a 3.97 ERA in his career versus the Dodgers, spanning 21 appearances.

After snapping a four-game losing streak with Saturday's win over the Brewers, the Giants won yesterday's rubber match 4-3 in 11 innings. Hector Sanchez knocked in the winning run, slicing a 3-2 sinker into left field with the bases loaded.

Conor Gillaspie, Angel Pagan and Ryan Theriot all knocked in runs for the Giants.

"We came from a tough three games with the Marlins and we wanted to be able to head to LA with a victory," Pagan said. "We feel good about it."

Pagan extended his career-high hitting streak to 20 straight games and is batting .315 over that span with four homers and seven RBI. He and Pablo Sandoval, who is currently out with a left-hand injury, became just the third set of Giants teammates to both post hitting streaks of at least 20 games in the same season and first since the team moved to San Francisco.

The last set of Giants to do so were Willie Mays and Don Mueller, who both hit safely in 21 straight games during the 1954 campaign. Mel Ott and Jo-Jo Moore did it in 1937.

The Giants and Dodgers split 18 meetings last season.