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LAD@MIA: Beckett strikes out eight over 6 2/3 innings

The Dodgers can make up ground or fall further behind the division-leading Giants when the National League West rivals open a four-game series on Thursday at Chavez Ravine.

At 19-16, Los Angeles is in third place in the division, though it stands just 2 1/2 games behind first-place San Francisco.

The Dodgers, however, are just 2-4 against the Giants this season.

"They're just a tough group for me," said Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly. "They play hard every day, they're mentally tough, they've got good pitching. They play the game right. They're just tough."

The Dodgers' pitching staff can attest to that.

In an early-season series between the clubs, the Giants' powerful lineup scored 17 runs in three games. Less than two weeks later, the lineups for both teams went silent during a three-game set in San Francisco with neither scoring more than three runs in a game, yet the Giants still managed to win the series.

San Francisco got off to a great start this season but lost two of three to Pittsburgh earlier this week, dropping its record to 21-13. On Thursday, the club begins the final leg of a 10-game road trip.

What does it mean?

"I think it's always a little more when we play L.A.," said first baseman Brandon Belt. "We're going to be battling it out until the end, so it's one of those series when we want to go in and take as many as we can. We'll probably both be there in the end, so if we could take some now, we're going to try to do it for sure."

Dodgers: Pitching rotation won't change
Mother Nature won't disrupt the order of the Dodgers' rotation entering the Giants series.

Mattingly said he will stick to the original schedule after Zack Greinke's previous start ended prematurely because of a three-plus-hour rain delay.

"Everyone will stay on turn," Mattingly said this week from the dugout at Nationals Park.

That means right-hander Josh Beckett (0-1, 3.14 ERA) will start Thursday, and he will be followed by Paul Maholm, Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.

Beckett took his first loss in his last appearance, allowing four runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings Friday in a 6-3 setback to the Miami Marlins. The right-hander fared better statistically in his previous start against San Francisco on April 15, though the Dodgers fell, 3-2. Beckett allowed two hits in five scoreless innings.

Giants: Vogelsong coming around
It took almost a month, but Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong in his last two starts looked more like the pitcher who tore through the NL in 2011-12. He'll oppose Beckett and aim for his third consecutive quality start when he tries to help San Francisco break out of its mini-funk on Thursday.

Vogelsong (1-1, 4.60 ERA) worked out of trouble early and often his last start, giving up just one earned run in six innings of work. He walked four and threw 107 pitches, but struck out six and earned his first win of the season.

"I was kind of fighting myself there a little bit," he said. "I was maybe a little tentative at first, getting a little too fine on the corners."

An early mound visit from Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti resonated.

"He told me to get after it," Vogelsong said. "That's kind of what I needed to hear."

Worth noting
• Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford and his .185 batting average took a seat for the start of Saturday's game vs. the Miami Marlins. By game's end, the outfielder became the hero by hitting a two-run homer in the 11th inning. Crawford hasn't slowed down since, going 9-for-16 to raise his batting average to .255.

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