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NLCS Game 4 preview: In search of offense

Both Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier are back in the Dodgers' lineup for Game 4.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- After three games of the National League Championship Series, there have been a total of nine runs scored. By both teams, combined. But if there was a game to bounce out of the offensive doldrums, it's Ricky Nolasco for the Dodgers vs. Lance Lynn and the Cardinals in Game 4 on Tuesday night.

Nolasco gets the call on Tuesday night, instead of Zack Greinke on short rest. Mattingly said he flip-flopped many times on the decision before ultimately deciding during Monday's Game 3.

"Well, the way it went down more than anything was Zack and Clayton both wanting to pitch and offering to pitch on three days," Mattingly said. "We said we'd wait until after the game.  As the game went on, I just told Rick I didn't feel good about it, and we're going everybody's staying where they're at.

"I really think it tells you a lot about Zack and about Clayton that they both come and want to do it.  It's a lot like Hanley and Adrian and Andre.  They want to play.  These guys want to win.  So it tells you about where their heads are, and we appreciate that part of it.  But we just didn't feel like at this point it was the right thing."

Mattingly said Nolasco, who last started on Sept. 25, would have started Game 4 even if the Dodgers were down 3-0 in the series. Nolasco allowed 19 runs in 12 innings over his last three starts.

"Well, to be really honest, we've put Ricky in‑‑ it's not a great spot for Ricky.  He hasn't pitched in a while," Mattingly said. "I think we didn't see a whole lot of differences in Ricky.  He had some teams in there that he didn't match up well with and had to pitch against traditionally.  It seemed that he got roughed up a couple times really good, and it wasn't the same.

"Then we see him bounce back and pitch a little bit better.  Ricky's competitive, and he's worked hard in here to try to stay sharp.  We'll just be keeping an eye on him and see where he's at and try to manage the game as it tells us what to do."

Edinson Volquez, who like Nolasco hasn't pitched since the regular season outside of a simulated game on Oct. 9 and various bullpen side sessions, will be available in long relief.

Lynn beat the Dodgers on May 24 with nine strikeouts in six scoreless innings, but over his next 19 starts was 6-9 with a 5.12 ERA. A fine finish in September - four runs allowed and a 1.09 ERA in four starts - earned him a Game 2 start in the NLDS, but he took the loss allowing seven runs to the Pirates.

Lynn pitched two scoreless innings in relief to earn the win in Game 1, giving him eight scoreless innings against the Dodgers this season. On Tuesday night he's trying to become just the fifth pitcher since the team moved to Los Angeles to beat the Dodgers twice in one series, joining Mudcat Grant (1965 World Series), Mike Torrez (1977 World Series), Steve Carlton (1983 NLCS) and Cole Hamels (2008 NLCS).

For Lynn to get that second win, he'll have to beat a Dodgers offense that has scored just five runs and hit just .213/.267/.306 in three games against the Cardinals. St. Louis has been even worse, hitting .134/.190/.175 with four runs scored.

"We have two great offenses here that haven't done anything yet, so there could be a couple good games here offensively," Lynn said Monday.  "But as a starting pitcher, you don't want to see it."

Game 4 info

Time: 5:07 p.m.


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