(Sports Network) -- With their backs squarely against the wall, the Los Angeles Dodgers hope to receive an immediate boost from one of their new acquisitions in tonight's showdown with the visiting San Diego Padres.
The two-time defending National League West champion Dodgers are in serious danger of falling out of the playoff race due to the team's poor play since the All-Star break. Los Angeles is a brutal 5-13 thus far in the second half and was handed a sixth consecutive loss in Monday's opener of this four-game series with the division-leading Padres.
The slide has dropped the Dodgers a full seven games behind the rival San Francisco Giants for the lead in the NL Wild Card race and nine back of the first-place Padres in the West standings.
"We have to start doing things right," manager Joe Torre said after Monday's 10-5 loss to San Diego. "Our confidence level is not good right now. We got more hits [Monday], we just couldn't keep the other team from scoring."
Los Angeles, which had scored two runs or less in nine of its last 11 contests prior to last night's matchup, did register 14 hits in the opener, but stranded 12 baserunners and received a rough outing out of starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (8-10). The Japanese righty lasted only four innings and was tagged for five runs (four earned) and seven hits.
Chase Headley and Will Venable each belted three-run homers for San Diego, with Headley ending 4-for-5 with three runs scored and Venable knocking in four runs on the night. Miguel Tejada, brought in by the Padres just prior to Saturday's trade deadline, added a two-run single as part of a 2-for-5 performance.
Clayton Richard (9-5) benefited from San Diego's offensive barrage to notch his ninth win of the season, with the young lefty laboring through 5 1/3 innings and throwing 105 pitches. He was reached for four runs on 10 hits before exiting.
"I thought I had a pretty good outing, but the numbers may not show it," Richard said afterward. "Every time we play a division rival, we try to take care of business."
Monday's win put the Padres two games ahead of idle San Francisco in the battle for first place in the NL West.
Matt Kemp excelled for Los Angeles in a losing cause, with the standout outfielder going 5-for-5 and driving in three runs while finishing a triple short of the cycle.
The desperate Dodgers obtained four veteran players in the days leading up to the trade deadline, including starting pitcher Ted Lilly in a deal with the Chicago Cubs. The 34-year-old will make his first start since the swap tonight and will be out to continue his career success when facing the Padres.
Lilly owns a 5-2 record with a 3.18 earned run average in nine career appearances (eight starts) against San Diego. He hasn't fared well pitching at Dodger Stadium in the past, though, having registered an 0-2 mark and a subpar 9.20 ERA over four games (three starts) in his new home park.
The experienced lefty went just 3-8 for the non-contending Cubs prior to the trade, but produced a respectable 3.69 ERA over the course of his 18 starts. In his final game with Chicago, Lilly struck out eight over 5 2/3 shutout innings in a no-decision at Houston on July 27, six days after tossing 7 1/3 frames of one-run ball in another non-verdict against the Astros.
Lilly will have to deal with one of the NL's hottest hitters right now in Yorvit Torrealba. The San Diego catcher went 3-for-5 in Monday's win and is batting a scorching .473 (26-for-55) over the course of his tear, the longest by a Padres player since Adrian Gonzalez hit in 16 in a row during 2006.
The struggling Dodgers don't figure to have an easy time at the plate, with San Diego sending the formidable Mat Latos to the mound this evening. The emerging young ace has amassed a stellar 11-4 record and a 2.45 ERA for the year and enters tonight's clash having won six consecutive decisions. Over an eight-start unbeaten streak dating back to June 10, the right-hander has yielded two runs or less on all of those occasions.
Latos didn't come up with a win his last time out, but certainly kept the Padres in the game during a home meeting with the Dodgers on Thursday. He held Los Angeles to two runs (one earned) and a mere two hits while striking out seven over five innings.
The 22-year-old wasn't as sharp in an appearance at Dodger Stadium last September, with Latos issuing five walks and surrendering four runs (two earned) before exiting after three innings of a 7-4 loss.
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 nine matchups between the divisional foes so far this year. The clubs split a two-game set at Dodger Stadium from May 19-20.