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Dan Haren looks to rebound as Dodgers host Indians

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Victor Decolongon

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers find themselves much like Robert Redford's character at the end of the 1972 film The Candidate, when after the newly-crowned U.S. Senator after a hard-fought election win just says, "Now what?"

The Dodgers are 14-6 in their last 20 games and have erased a 9½-game deficit in three weeks to pull into a virtual tie atop the National League West with San Francisco. But there are still 78 games remaining in 2014.

"You have to have some appreciation for the length of the season, and how long it is," manager Don Mattingly said after Sunday's win. "It's a lot easier to be patient when you know you've got Kersh, Greinke, Ryu, Josh, and Haren has kept us in games. You have a chance to roll off a lot of games."

The "now what?" begins Monday night with an interleague matchup against the Indians, making their first trip to Los Angeles since 2008.

Dan Haren gets the call in the opener, looking to reverse a trend that culminated in his shortest outing of the season on Wednesday in Kansas City, 4⅓ innings against the Royals.

Haren has seen his strikeout rate plummet by month, from 20.8 percent in April to 14.5 percent in May down to 11.8 percent in June. He has exacerbated that by allowing at least one home run in nine straight starts, 14 in all during that span.

Opposing hitters in May and June against Haren are hitting .284/.319/.494 with 14 home runs and 13 doubles in 278 plate appearances.

He will face a struggling Indians team that has lost six of its last eight and 11 of its last 17 games. Though they will be a test for Haren, as Cleveland doesn't strikeout much, 23rd in major league baseball with an 18.8-percent strikeout rate, and are above average with 74 home runs, tied for 12th in baseball.

Since a 17-run outburst against Texas on June 9 that put Cleveland 33-31 and just two games out of first place in the American League Central, the Indians have averaged 3.65 runs per game while hitting just .232/.291/.368 as a team.

David Murphy is 9-for-24 (.375) with two home runs and a double in his career against Haren, while Michael Bourn is 4-for-13 (.308) with two doubles and three walks (.438 on-base percentage).

Michael Brantley is 4-for-16 (.250) with two doubles and a walk against Haren, while Asdrubal Cabrera is 2-for-23 (.087) with a walk and seven strikeouts and Carlos Santana is 1-for-12 (.083) with two walks and five strikeouts.

The only active Dodger to face Indians starter Corey Kluber is Adrian Gonzalez, who was 1-for-2 with a home run against him in 2012 while with Boston, the matchup coming 10 days before The Punto Trade.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA