SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers on Wednesday night look to avoid their first series loss in San Diego in four seasons, and will do so by sending the one starting pitcher that made it through spring training without any health problems, in Dan Haren against the Padres.
But then again, Haren did go through a dead-arm period that kept him in Arizona while the rest of the team went to Australia, and his final tuneup on Saturday night against the Angels was probably the team's worst pitching performance of the spring.
Haren allowed six runs in his two innings on Saturday in Anaheim, including two home runs and five extra-base hits allowed to his 13 batters faced. Haren said he was working on his cutter - players are wont to experiment and tinker often during exhibition games - and would have abandoned it sooner if it were a regular season game.
But on Wednesday it counts against San Diego, and the Dodgers hope Haren can continue on his second-half success in Washington in 2013. After a 4-9 record and 6.15 ERA in his first 15 starts, with 19 home runs allowed and 18.3% of his batters faced struck out, Haren was placed on the disabled list. The official reason was right shoulder inflammation but it very well could have been for not getting anybody out.
But the two weeks rest did his arm well, and he finished the season looking more like the dependable rotation stalwart that averaged 33 starts, 220 innings, 189 strikeouts and a 118 ERA+ for eight years (2005-2012) with the Athletics, Angels and Rangers. In his final 16 games with the Nationals, including 15 starts, Haren was 6-5 with a 3.29 ERA, just nine home runs allowed, and he struck out 84 in 87⅔ innings, 23.9% percent of his batters faced.
Five Padres have faced Haren more than six plate appearances in their career: Homer-a-day Seth Smith is 10-for-38 (.263) with four doubles and a home run; Chase Headley is 9-for-32 (.281) with two doubles and a homer; Nick Hundley is 10-for-29 (.345) with two doubles; Everth Cabrera is 4-for-14 (.286) with a double; and Will Venable is 1-for-13 (.077) with a home run.
The Dodgers have won seven of their last nine series at Petco Park, with the other two series ending in splits (a two-gamer in 2012, and a four-game set in 2013). The last series loss for the Dodgers in San Diego was a sweep at the hands of the Padres from Sept. 6-8, 2010.
Tyson Ross gets the start for San Diego in the series finale. He set a career high with 10 strikeouts at Dodger Stadium last September 1, in just five innings, a game the Dodgers eventually won 2-1.
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA