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Dodgers Begin Series With Strasburg-Less Nationals

(Sports Network) - It's only August, but the Los Angeles Dodgers are in danger of playing themselves out of the playoff race. They'll try to get their struggling offense going tonight versus the Washington Nationals in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers are just 7-14 since the All-Star break and seven losses in their last nine games have dropped the club six games back of the National League's wild card spot. They have also been held to two runs or fewer in 11 of their last 15 games, hitting .205 in that span.

Los Angeles has been shut out twice in five August games, including Thursday's 5-0 setback to San Diego that gave the Dodgers an unfortunate split of a four- game series.

Chad Billingsley carried a 21 2/3 innings scoreless streak into last night's start and allowed three runs over six innings.

"We had guys in scoring position but [Padres starter Kevin] Correia did a good job. They were better than we were tonight," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

Already without Manny Ramirez (calf) and Russell Martin (hip), Rafael Furcal missed last night's game with strained lower back and is unlikely to play in this series.

Starter Clayton Kershaw could use his table setter tonight as he looks to bounce back from a tough-luck loss to the Giants on Monday. The 22-year-old allowed just two runs over seven innings, but lost a 2-0 decision.

Kershaw, who threw eight shutout innings in a victory over the Mets on July 25, is 10-6 on the year with a 2.94 earned run average. That includes a 6-2 mark and 2.88 ERA in 12 home starts.

The left-hander got a no-decision at Washington in April 24 despite six innings of two-run ball and is 2-1 versus the franchise lifetime with a 3.38 ERA in five games, four starts.

The Nationals will also be without their speedster tonight after placing Nyjer Morgan on the disabled list following last night's 8-4 setback to the Diamondbacks due to right hip soreness. Morgan is hitting .261 this year with 29 stolen bases.

Washington also split its four-game set with Arizona as it failed to capitalize on four home runs on Thursday. Ryan Zimmerman notched his fifth multi-homer game of the year and both Adam Kennedy and Roger Bernadina also went deep, but the Nats committed three errors in the setback.

Ross Detwiler took the loss, yielding seven runs -- four earned -- on nine hits with five strikeouts and two walks over four-plus frames.

"We don't make plays when he (Detwiler) pitches," said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. "Terrible performance by our club."

John Lannan will try to build off a strong start last time out, his first since returning from the minor leagues.

The 25-year-old began the year 2-5 with a 5.76 ERA in 14 starts before a demotion. Lannan returned to major league action on Monday versus Philadelphia and got a no-decision after yielding two runs on seven hits over five innings.

Lannan, a lefty, is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two career starts versus the Dodgers.

The Nationals took two of three at home over the Dodgers back on April 23-25 and have won seven of the last 11 meetings overall.