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09/15/12 9:24 PM ET

Rookie Fife steps into heat of race for Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Just five days after being recalled from Triple-A, Stephen Fife will take the mound on Sunday in one of the biggest games of the year for the Dodgers.

Fife made three starts for the Dodgers before the team acquired Joe Blanton, and he was effective in each. He went 0-1 with a 2.16 ERA while allowing just four earned runs in 16 2/3 innings.

The 25-year-old is starting Sunday because ace Clayton Kershaw was scratched with continued right hip pain that could end his season.

The only other option for the Dodgers was John Ely, who went 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA in 27 starts in the Minors this year. However, manager Don Mattingly liked how Fife has pitched lately and decided to use him against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals on Sunday.

"He's pitched well," Mattingly said. "The times he has pitched, he's been good. He's hung in there and changed speeds."

Mattingly said he is comfortable playing the matchups with his bullpen if Fife can hold his own like he did in three starts earlier this season.

"If he can go out and keep us in the game for five innings, I'd say we'd be happy," said Mattingly, who would go with a four-man rotation if the off-days work out and Kershaw can't return.

Mattingly happy he'll return to Dodgers in 2013

LOS ANGELES -- The majority of the Dodgers will be back next year and so will manager Don Mattingly, who said he is definitely excited the team isn't planning on cutting ties with him.

"I love what I'm doing and I like it here," Mattingly said. "I'm pretty vocal that I like it. At that point, if they don't want you here, then you don't want to be here anyway. I say the same thing with my players. If they don't want to be here then I don't want them to be here. That being said, I'm happy."

Mattingly, who replaced Joe Torre after the 2010 season, has led the Dodgers to a 157-149 record in two seasons, and he's under contract through 2013.

The even-keeled manager had the Dodgers one game back in the National League Wild Card chase entering Saturday's game.

Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.