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Dodgers starters picking up the slack

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers conclude their road trip with three games in Phoenix beginning Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks, the first team the Dodgers have faced with a winning record since the All-Star break.

So far the Dodgers have been indiscriminate in running roughshod through opponents, beating winning and losing teams alike for two-plus months. They just haven’t had the opportunity to face a good team in a month, so Arizona will provide a nice test, not to mention a possible National League Division Series preview.

Run prevention has been a great strength of the Dodgers all season, allowing just 3.29 runs per game. Only two other major league teams -- the Diamondbacks (3.96) and Indians (3.98) -- have allowed fewer than four runs per contest in 2017.

At 365 runs allowed, the Dodgers have allowed 69 fewer runs than any other team in baseball. Nice.

NL standings

Team W-L Pct GB Run diff.
Team W-L Pct GB Run diff.
Dodgers 79-32 0.712 ---- +204
Nationals 66-44 0.600 12.5 +113
Rockies 64-48 0.571 15.5 +50
D-backs 63-48 0.568 16 +114
Cubs 59-52 0.532 20 +41
Brewers 59-55 0.518 21.5 +27
Cardinals 56-56 0.500 23.5 +42

What has been most impressive is how, even with Clayton Kershaw on the shelf, the club has not missed a beat on the mound.

Kershaw left his start early on July 23 after just two innings, but his absence has been filled quite nicely. In 12 games since, Dodgers starters have a 1.95 ERA in 69⅓ innings, with 61 strikeouts and 17 walks.

During that span, Dodgers starting pitchers have allowed zero to two runs in nine of the 12 games, and the team is 11-1.

Kenta Maeda starts off the series in Phoenix on Tuesday night, looking to continue what has been a long string of recent success. The right-hander has allowed 12 total runs in his last eight starts, including seven scoreless frames in his last outing, one week ago in Atlanta.

Since the beginning of June, Maeda has pitched in 10 games — including two relief appearances — putting up a 2.31 ERA with 44 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 46⅔ innings.

Maeda and the Dodgers staff will have to account for a red-hot Paul Goldschmidt, who is hitting .368/.480/.658 since the All-Star break. And no, that’s not below his normal output, even though it might seem that way against the Dodgers.

Arizona’s first baseman is a career .311/.381/.558 hitter against the Dodgers, with 25 home runs and 25 doubles in 105 games. Amazingly, since the beginning of 2016 Goldschmidt is hitting just .234/.317/.387 against them in 29 games, including 10-for-35 (.286) with one home run and eight walks this season.

The D-backs’ main deadline acquisition, J.D. Martinez, has acquitted himself quite nicely to his new team. Though hitting just .226, Martinez has hit six home runs and eight extra-base hits, posting a .328 on-base percentage and .623 slugging percentage with Arizona.

Dodgers starters have a 3.41 ERA in 10 games against the Diamondbacks this season, with 70 strikeouts and 14 walks in 58 innings, holding Arizona hitters to .224/.271/.388.