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Dodgers Welcome Giants To Town With A Chance To Play Spoiler

(Sports Network) - The door has been left open for the Giants to make a run at the National League West title. That means now would be a good time for Barry Zito to get back on track.

The struggling former Cy Young Award winner will try to snap a six-decision losing streak and pitch San Francisco to a fourth straight win over Los Angeles this evening in the opener of a three-game set at Dodger Stadium.

Though the Giants have won just three times in their last seven games overall, they are just three back of the first-place Padres in the division standings thanks to San Diego's current seven-game slide. San Francisco is also just two games back of NL Wild Card-leading Philadelphia.

The Giants kicked off a string of 16 straight games versus NL West opponents by losing two of three to the Diamondbacks, but rebounded to take two of three at home versus the Rockies. San Francisco now plays its next 10 on the road, a trek that concludes with four games at San Diego from Sept. 9-12.

San Francisco took Wednesday's rubber match of a three-game set with Colorado, 2-1, as Tim Lincecum outdueled Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez.

Lincecum gave up just a run and struck out nine over eight innings for his first victory since July 30.

The Giants scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as Mike Fontenot worked a walk off Jimenez. Lincecum's sacrifice bunt then moved a pinch- running Darren Ford to second before Jimenez uncorked a wild pitch. Ford broke for third and the throw to the bag by Colorado catcher Miguel Olivo was high, allowing Ford to come home.

"It was a great game for both sides tonight," said Fontenot, who had a run- scoring single in the fifth. "Tim came out and really threw the ball well."

The Giants might need to supply some more offense tonight given that Zito has posted an 11.48 earned run average over his last four appearances, a span that includes three starts. Zito has picked up a loss in all four outings, yielding 17 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings.

The 32-year-old lefty hasn't won since July 16 and lasted just 3 2/3 innings versus Arizona on Saturday, yielding nine runs -- seven earned -- on six hits and five walks.

"I'm just not in a good rhythm. The pitches just aren't crisp right now," Zito said. "It requires working hard between starts."

Zito, who is 8-10 with a 4.07 ERA this year, has held the Dodgers to a pair of runs or fewer in all four starts versus them this year, but is just 0-1 despite the 1.95 ERA as the Giants have plated just five runs in his starts.

Los Angeles has lost four of its last five and dropped the rubber match of a three-game set with Philadelphia, 5-1, on Wednesday. The Dodgers did not get their first hit off Phillies starter Roy Oswalt until there were two outs in the sixth inning and managed just James Loney's RBI hit in the eighth frame.

"We made Roy work for it. He's effective because he can throw a number of pitches for strikes. He keeps you guessing," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "We need to be more productive in the middle of our lineup. We still have a six or seven-game winning streak in us, but we need to do it now."

Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 in six innings, but was touched for five hits and two runs in the loss.

Chad Billingsley will start tonight for the Dodgers and has lost three of his last four decisions. The righty is coming off a loss in Colorado on Saturday after giving up three runs on five hits and five walks over six innings without a strikeout, falling to 10-8 with a 3.73 ERA this year.

Billingsley, who has a 2.06 ERA over his last eight starts, is 1-0 in three games versus the Giants this year and hasn't allowed a run over his last two starts against them, spanning 15 2/3 innings. That includes a five-hit shutout for the 26-year-old at home on July 21.

The Giants have won six of seven over the Dodgers this season, but are just 6-6 in the season series.