Dodgers Face Old Friends In Series Opener With Diamondbacks

(Sports Network) - The Arizona Diamondbacks will have a new manager in place this evening when they open a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field.

With the Diamondbacks 17 games under .500 at 31-48 and 15 games back of the first-place San Diego Padres in the National League West, manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes were fired on Thursday. It is the second straight year the Diamondbacks have fired a manager in-season after dismissing Bob Melvin in May of last year.

"I appreciate the commitment and dedication that Josh and A.J. demonstrated during their tenures," managing general partner Ken Kendrick said. "Their dismissal is a significant decision, but one that we find necessary in order to achieve a direction of winning consistently on the field again. We have a number of talented players, but obviously see great room for improvement. We look forward to bringing permanence to these two baseball leadership roles."

Jerry Dipoto will take over the general manager duties in the interim, while Kirk Gibson will be the manager of the team for the remainder of the season. Gibson, of course, had the most memorable moment of his career as a player for the team he will be making his managerial debut with tonight.

It was Gibson's dramatic pinch-hit home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series that set the tone for the Dodgers' five-game series win. He was also the National League's MVP that season for Los Angeles.

Gibson inherits a Diamondbacks club that has not had a lot to cheer about. However, one of the lone bright spots of an otherwise forgettable season came last Friday when Edwin Jackson tossed the second no-hitter in team history and third in the majors this season.

It was hardly a flawless outing, though, as the right-hander walked eight batters and used an incredible 149 pitches - the most ever in a no-hitter - to improve to 5-6 on the year.

"It's just one of those things where you have to be mentally tough. If you're going to lose, you're going to lose fighting," Jackson admitted of his rarely quiet innings during the memorable outing. "There was a chance that I could give up a hit, a home run or even a game-winning home run. You have to go out there and be a competitor. You have to go out thinking you're gonna win."

Jackson, who is pitching to a 4.63 ERA, has now won his last two starts and four of his last five decisions and is unbeaten in his previous five.

At one-time Jackson was a top prospect in the Dodgers organization, but has faced them three times since, going 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, enters tonight's matchup on the heels of sweeping the reeling San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers have now won four of five and six of their last eight to move within 2 1/2 games of the NL West-leading Padres.

The Dodgers could continue to roll, as Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda goes for his third win in his last four starts. Kuroda beat the Yankees on Saturday, holding the defending champions to four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, upping his season mark to 7-5 to go along with a 3.27 ERA.

Kuroda beat the D-Backs the last time he faced them and is 2-3 in eight starts against them with a 3.45 ERA.

The Dodgers have had their way with the Diamondbacks this season, winning eight of the nine meetings, including all three in Arizona.

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