Dodgers Vs. Giants Game Preview: L.A. Must Face Matt Cain In Series Opener

The last time the Los Angeles Dodgers traveled north to face the division rival San Francisco Giants, it was a disastrous series for the boys in blue. The Dodgers didn't score a single run in three games, and saw their three-game division lead disappear.

Entering Friday, the Dodgers now find themselves three games behind the Giants, and look to snap their three-game losing streak. The Dodgers opened their road trip with four straight wins but lost the final three games in St. Louis.

The Giants have won four of the six meetings between these two teams this season, and that's without the Dodgers facing Matt Cain. That ends Friday night, as Cain starts the series opener. Cain has been a stalwart for the Giants this season, at 10-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 19 starts, averaging over seven innings per start.

Since his perfect game against the Houston Astros on June 13, Cain is 2-1 with a 4.08 ERA in six starts with eight home runs in 39 2/3 innings.

The Dodgers haven't yet announced their starting pitcher for Friday, but it appears that Stephen Fife will make his second big league start. This start was originally scheduled for Nathan Eovaldi, but he was dealt on Wednesday along with minor league pitcher Scott McGough to the Miami Marlins for Hanley Ramirez and left-handed relief pitcher Randy Choate.

Fife allowed just one run in six innings in a no-decision against the Philadelphia Phillies in his major league debut on June 17, and he was optioned back to Triple A the next day. Normally Fife wouldn't be allowed to return on Friday as it is within the 10 days required for an optional assignment, but he could return if replacing an injured player.

Relief pitcher Scott Elbert has been dealing with shoulder soreness for the last several weeks per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, and is likely headed for the disabled list to open up a spot for Fife on Friday. Elbert was the only left-handed pitcher in the bullpen for the Dodgers until Choate was acquired on Wednesday.

2012 Dodgers vs. Giants
May 7: at LA 9, SF 1
May 8: SF 2, at LA 1
May 9: at LA 6, SF 2
June 25: at SF 8, LA 0
June 26: at SF 2, LA 0
June 27: at SF 3, LA 0

Ramirez has played third base in his first two games as a Dodger, but he will likely play shortstop soon, and at least until Dee Gordon returns from the disabled list next month.

"For right now it's the best spot for us," said manager Don Mattingly. "If he's playing shortstop everyone else can mix and match at third base a little bit, and we can do some things with the guys that we have."

At the plate Ramirez is 3-for-6 with three walks and a triple, with two runs scored and an RBI. He has batted fifth behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in both games.

The Dodgers hope that with Ramirez, Kemp, and Ethier in the middle of their batting order their offense will produce. At the very least, they should easily outdo the last series at AT&T Park, when the Giants outscored the Dodgers 13-0 in three games from June 25-27.

In losing those three games in San Francisco, the Dodgers had a total of 13 hits and three doubles, hitting just .172/.245/.204.

The Giants have won each of their last four series and are 9-3 since the All-Star break. The Dodgers, who got Kemp and Ethier back from the disabled list on July 13, are 6-7 during that span.

For more on the Dodgers, check out True Blue LA. For all the latest on the Giants, be sure to read than McCovey Chronicles and SB Nation Bay Area.

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