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Dodgers Look To Be More Than Padre Helper

(Sports Network) - The San Diego Padres are still right in the thick of the National League West race thanks in part to their recent play against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tonight, the Padres go for a sixth straight win over their division rivals when they continue a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.

The Padres opened this set with a convincing win on Tuesday, as Clayton Richard threw the first shutout of his career in a 6-0 win. Richard (13-8) scattered eight hits and two walks while striking out six to stop a three- decision slide.

San Diego, though, did not gain any ground in the NL West, as the Giants eked out a 1-0 win over the Cubs on Tuesday to maintain a half-game advantage.

"Last year, we were wishing we were one of the teams trying to get into the playoffs," Richard said. "This year, we have that opportunity and everyone is excited."

Chad Billingsley (11-11) was tagged for five runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts over five innings of work for the Dodgers, who have lost five of six. Jamey Carroll and A.J. Ellis each had two hits in the loss.

"We didn't play well enough to be in a pennant race," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre.

Hoping to get the Padres back into first place tonight will be Tim Stauffer, who has been thrust into the starting rotation after dominating out of the bullpen for the better part of the year. Stauffer absorbed the loss on Thursday in St. Louis, as he allowed four runs and six hits in five-plus innings.

Stauffer, who is 2-2 lifetime against the Dodgers, is 4-4 on the year with a 1.99 ERA.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Ted Lilly, who is 8-11 with a 3.83 ERA. Lilly lost his third straight decision on Thursday in San Francisco, as he was hammered for six runs and seven hits in just 3 1/3 innings.

Lilly beat the Padres back on August 3 and is 6-2 in 10 games (nine) starts against them with a 2.97 ERA.

San Diego has won nine of its 16 meetings with the Dodgers this season.