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Dodgers Return Home, Host Padres In Primetime

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Dodgers made a number of moves at the trade deadline in an effort to bolster their fading playoff hopes. The time is now to see whether or not they'll pay off.

Mired in a costly five-game losing streak, the revamped Dodgers seek to rebound when they return home this evening to take on the National League West-leading San Diego Padres in the opener of a four-game series that could prove to be critical for both team's chances of reaching the postseason.

Los Angeles acquired four veteran players prior to Saturday's deadline in an effort to return to the playoffs for a third straight year. General manager Ned Colletti began the wheeling and dealing by nabbing speedy outfielder Scott Podsednik from Kansas City on Wednesday, then brought in starting pitcher Ted Lilly and second baseman Ryan Theriot from the Chicago Cubs on Saturday before landing reliever Octavio Dotel in a swap with Pittsburgh.

The moves may be a sign of desperation for the Dodgers, who fell to 6 1/2 games behind rival San Francisco for the lead in the NL Wild Card race after dropping all three matchups with the Giants over the weekend. Los Angeles enters this set eight games back of the surprising Padres in the division standings.

Dotel and Theriot made their Dodger debuts in Sunday's finale with the Giants, but neither was able to prevent their new team from being dealt a 2-0 loss. Los Angeles mustered only four hits off Matt Cain and two San Francisco relievers in falling to 5-12 since the All-Star break.

Theriot went 0-for-4 batting second in the lineup, while Podsednik had a single in four at-bats from the leadoff spot. He's hitting just .200 in four games since coming over from the Royals.

A lack of offense has crippled Los Angeles as of late, as Joe Torre's squad has managed only nine runs during its five-game slide and has scored two or less in nine of its last 11 contests.

"Right now, unless we play better, we are where we deserve to be," said Torre after Sunday's loss. "We've got to change that and certainly change the personality and the confidence before we can concern ourselves with how far back we are."

On a positive note, the Dodgers expect to have Andre Ethier back in the lineup tonight after the All-Star outfielder sat out the final two tests of the San Francisco series to attend the birth of his child.

The Dodgers did get good pitching out of Clayton Kershaw (10-6) in yesterday's setback, with the talented lefty allowing two runs and striking out six over seven innings in the tough-luck result.

Lilly is scheduled to pitch Tuesday's second game of this series, with Hiroki Kuroda getting the call for Los Angeles in the opener. The Japan native comes in having lost four of his last five starts and has often been the victim of poor run support, as the Dodgers scored a total of one run over three of those defeats.

Kuroda was reached for three runs in six innings of work in his latest loss, a 6-1 verdict to the Padres in San Diego this past Wednesday. He was outstanding his previous time out, though, firing eight shutout frames to best the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium on July 22.

The 35-year-old is 4-3 with a solid 3.29 ERA in 10 home starts this season and also owns a 4-3 record in eight lifetime meetings with the Padres, while posting a 4.85 ERA over the course of those games.

Kuroda was outdueled by Clayton Richard in Wednesday's showdown at Petco Park, and the young left-hander will be aiming to duplicate that effort in tonight's rematch. The 26-year-old held Los Angeles' sputtering offense to one run and four hits while striking out six over six sharp innings to improve his season record to 8-5.

Richard, who's won four of his last five decisions, also beat Los Angeles with seven shutout innings of one-hit ball last September and is 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in three overall starts in this series. This will be his first time pitching at Dodger Stadium, however.

In nine assignments on the road thus far in 2010, Richard is 3-2 with a 3.79 ERA.

San Francisco's sweep of the Dodgers also shortened San Diego's lead atop the NL West after the Padres dropped two of three at home to Florida this past weekend. The hard-charging Giants are now just 1 1/2 games behind the Friars for first place.

San Diego kept the Giants from gaining any further ground, however, by coming through with a 5-4 victory in Sunday's finale with the Marlins. The Padres battered Cy Young Award candidate Josh Johnson for five runs in 5 2/3 innings to prevail, with Jerry Hairston Jr.'s two-run double in the bottom of the sixth snapping a 3-3 tie.

"I give them credit, but I didn't make my pitches today," said Johnson afterward. "I didn't make my pitches and I let them stay in there, that will hurt you all the time."

Yorvit Torrealba also had a two-run double and finished 3-for-4 for San Diego, while starting pitcher Jon Garland (10-7) allowed three runs and fanned six over the first six innings to earn the win. Three Padre relievers protected the lead the rest of the way, with All-Star closer Heath Bell picking up his 30th save despite giving up a run in the ninth.

San Diego also made a couple of moves to boost their offense before the deadline, acquiring infielder Miguel Tejada from Baltimore and outfielder Ryan Ludwick from St. Louis in a pair of trades. Ludwick came up with a key pinch- hit single during the Padres' three-run sixth in Sunday's win and wound up scoring on Hairston's go-ahead double.

Tejada has yet to make an impact, however, as the former American League MVP went just 1-for-10 during the Florida series.

San Diego took two of three games from Los Angeles when the teams met at Petco Park last week, but the Dodgers have won five of the eight matchups between the divisional foes so far this year. The clubs split a two-game set at Dodger Stadium from May 19-20.