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Mat Latos opens Dodgers series at Padres with something to prove

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The surging Dodgers look for a sixth straight series win against the Padres, opening up a four-game series at Petco Park in San Diego on Thursday night.

The Dodgers have won eight of their last nine games overall, including a three-game sweep of San Francisco to build a season-high 6½-game lead in the National League West.

Against the Padres, the Dodgers have won all four series in 2015 as well as their last series against them in 2014. All five series saw the Dodgers take the first game, then win two out of three games. But this one goes a tad longer, a four-game set that might not include either of the Dodgers' best two pitchers.

As of Wednesday night, the pitchers for Saturday and Sunday haven't been announced, but they will likely be Alex Wood and Brett Anderson, after Mike Bolsinger makes a spot start on Friday, giving everyone an extra day of rest, including Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.

Mat Latos starts the opener on Thursday night, and despite public support from manager Don Mattingly could very well be fighting to remain in the rotation.

Latos has a 6.05 ERA in four starts with the Dodgers, which already included one banishment to the bullpen. While his peripheral numbers are somewhat better — 13 strikeouts and six walks, with two home runs allowed in 19⅓ innings — and his FIP is 4.07, Latos has failed to complete the fifth inning in any of his last three starts.

The Dodgers acquired Latos hoping he would be their third starter in a playoff rotation behind Kershaw and Greinke, but now he needs to improve to just keep being their fifth starter, not to mention help his free agent push.

Latos faced the Padres, one of his old teams, on July 26 while with the Marlins, and allowed three runs in six innings, striking out five with no walks in a loss at Petco Park in his final start with Miami.

Colin Rea, 25, gets the call for San Diego, making his fifth major league start. The right-hander has pitched into the sixth inning in three of his four outings, but so far has recorded outs in the sixth just once, maxing out at 5⅔ innings.

Rea has a 5.95 ERA, and with 16 strikeouts and six walks in his 19⅔ innings like Latos has a FIP two runs lower, at 3.95.

The Dodgers and Padres haven't faced each other since June 14, but will play seven times in the final 30 games of the season. San Diego was 32-33 at the end of that series in June, and is 32-36 since.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA