- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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PHOENIX -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place in the NL West in large part because they play in the NL West.
They have gone 33-19 against teams in their division and 27-12 against teams other than the San Francisco Giants in their division. The good news for Dodgers fans is that the team’s next five games and 23 of its last 30 are inside the West, starting with a strange, five-game trip (with two off days) to Arizona and San Diego.
The Dodgers are 10-4 against Arizona and 9-4 against San Diego.
Tuesday the Dodgers have to survive what might be an unfavorable pitching matchup, with Roberto Hernandez on the mound against Trevor Cahill, who has come back from the minor leagues on a bit of a roll, going 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA since the demotion. Hernandez had a slow, grinding start against the Padres in his last time on the mound, but has generally been a nice post-non-waiver trade deadline pickup for the Dodgers.
Wednesday will be a chance for Clayton Kershaw to exorcise whatever demons are left from one of the worst starts of his career at Chase Field earlier this season. It was an aberration in what looks like another Cy Young season for Kershaw, but he has never had much fun pitching in Arizona. He is 3-6 with a 4.10 ERA lifetime there.
Wednesday will be the same pitching matchup as Opening Day in Australia, with the Dodgers facing lefty Wade Miley, who has a 1.83 ERA in his last three starts though he walked six Washington Nationals batters in his last start.
Arizona is doing some late-season experimenting, with manager Kirk Gibson telling reporters recently he will try Aaron Hill at third base in coming games in order to get some of the team’s middle infielders onto the field at the same time.
When the Diamondbacks, playing without star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, took two of three from the Padres over the weekend, it was their first series win since taking two of three from the last-place Colorado Rockies Aug. 8-11. The Dodgers will get their first look at rookie third baseman Jake Lamb. The Diamondbacks called him up Aug. 7 and he hit his first major-league home run on Saturday.