MLB Game Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies - Date: 9/18/2017 Dodgers look to continue turnaround vs. Phillies 27m ago• 3 min read PHILADELPHIA -- The Los Angeles Dodgers can relax a bit.The best team in baseball this year, the Dodgers endured a stunning 11-game losing streak earlier this month before bouncing back to win four in a row.Even though the win streak ended with a 7-1 loss Sunday night at Washington, the Dodgers still took the battle of first-place teams against the Nationals. Now Los Angeles moves on to a four-game series against the Phillies that starts Monday in Philadelphia.The Phillies dropped two of three over the weekend to the Oakland Athletics to close out interleague play.When many baseball fans were pressing the panic button on the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw calmed things down and halted their losing streak on Tuesday. Good Return on Investment. The left-hander takes the mound Monday after another Los Angeles loss.Kershaw (17-3, 2.12 ERA) is 3-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 11 career starts against Philadelphia. He will be opposed Monday by Phillies righty Nick Pivetta (5-10, 6.75 ERA).Kershaw guided Los Angeles to a 5-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants to end the skid. He gave up two runs (one earned) in six innings, allowing eight hits and a walk while striking out six."Tonight wasn't easy. Nothing about this last week's been easy," Kershaw said after the game. "I wasn't very good tonight. It was a full team effort. It had to be. ... We needed this one." The National League Cy Young Award candidate will offer a tough challenge for the Phillies' lineup, which has scored the third-most runs per game in the National League in the second half. Kershaw has only lost one decision since May 1, and he has conceded two runs or fewer in eight of his past nine starts.Philadelphia rookie slugger Rhys Hoskins will get his first look at Kershaw after experiencing a power drought in their weekend series against the A's. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin knows his Hoskins is coming back down to earth after his scorching start to September (18 homers through his first 34 games), but the skipper believes there is no cause for concern.Hoskins went 0-for-11 with six strikeouts and a walk against Oakland."I think he's just expanded the zone," Mackanin said. "He was just letting it happen, and in the last few days he was trying to make it happen. I think he got a little bit over anxious, but every hitter goes through periods like that." Third baseman Maikel Franco returned to the Phillies' lineup on Sunday, pushing J. P. Crawford to his natural position at shortstop and starting shortstop Freddy Galvis to the bench for the afternoon.Franco has taken a step back at the plate this year, hitting just .233 and striking out more than twice as much as he is walking. But on Sunday, Franco showed the discipline at the plate that Mackanin was looking for all season, hitting three singles.Whether Franco gets the nod at third base on Monday or not, all of the Philadelphia infielders know that they are attempting to land a spot in the majors for next season."You're always auditioning in this game," Mackanin said. "It's what have you done for me lately. You have to continue to succeed otherwise somebody is going to show up and want to play. Everybody wants to play. Sports Handicappers. There's always somebody beneath you that wants to play, so you have to maintain what you're doing and play well."Maikel has done enough for us to still remain confident in him and positive. It's a matter of putting it all together and having more plate discipline." Just like the infielders, starting pitchers are also auditioning for spots in 2018. Perhaps nobody more so than Pivetta.The 24-year-old has struggled in his past two outings, giving up 13 runs over 10 innings, but with much of the Phillies' 2018 rotation seemingly wide open, he has a chance down the stretch to make an impression on Mackanin and the Phillies."We have the usual suspects, you know, (Jerad) Eickhoff, Pivetta, (Jake) Thompson and (Zach) Eflin," Mackanin said. "A lot of injuries in there, but it's wide open as far as I'm concerned. We've got a lot of possibilities, but it's pretty wide open after (Aaron) Nola." Pivetta lost his lone career meeting with the Dodgers, in his major league debut on April 30. He gave up two runs on nine hits in five innings.
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