(AP) — After splitting their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago Cubs continue their road trip in Los Angeles, where they’ll take on the Dodgers.
Only one Dodgers player has recorded a longer hitting streak than Andre Ethier since the team relocated to Los Angeles in 1958.
A three-game set against one of the worst starting rotations in baseball could help him inch closer to the club’s all-time record and join an impressive list of names.
Ethier looks to continue his hot hitting as the Dodgers try for a ninth win in 12 home games against the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.
An infield single in the seventh inning of Sunday’s 7-0 loss to San Diego extended Ethier’s hitting streak to 27 games and moved him within four of matching Willie Davis’ franchise record set in 1969.
“I was just trying to figure out a way to get the job done and get on base – a walk, error, hit anything that gives us a chance to start scoring runs, especially in a ballgame like that where not much offense is being shown,” Ethier said.
The Dodgers (14-15), who have averaged 2.6 runs en route to losing four of six, are likely looking forward to facing Chicago’s struggling starters, a group that has a major league-worst 6.12 ERA.
James Russell (1-3, 8.31 ERA) starts for the Cubs. He has allowed 19 hits in 9 2-3 innings over three starts this season, compiling an 11.17 ERA during that span. Russell gave up four runs and five hits in four innings of Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Colorado.
“I get paid to throw a baseball, so whenever they want me to throw it, I’ll throw it,” Russell, who was used primarily out of the bullpen prior to a slew of injuries to the rotation, told the Cubs’ official website.
Ethier, batting .417 with eight RBIs during a six-game hitting streak against the Cubs (12-15), is 0 for 1 versus Russell, against whom opponents are batting .362 this year.
If the All-Star outfielder can record a hit against the left-hander as well as Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano – scheduled to start for Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday – he’ll join Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Luis Castillo, Albert Pujols, Willy Taveras, Moises Alou and Ryan Zimmerman as the only players to hit safely in at least 30 straight games in a season since 2000. Ethier is 7 for 19 against Dempster and 7 for 16 against Zambrano.
Chicago, which fell 4-3 at Arizona on Sunday thanks in part to going 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position, could be quieted again by Clayton Kershaw (2-3, 3.52).
While Kershaw allowed a combined three runs in 19 2-3 innings during his first three starts, he has gone 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in his last three outings. He surrendered four runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-2 loss at Florida on Tuesday.
“There are a couple of pitches I’d like to have back,” Kershaw said. “If I had to do it all over again, maybe I throw a couple of pitches at a different location.”
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in two career starts against the Cubs. He held them to two runs and seven hits in eight innings while striking out 12 in a 3-2 home win July 8.
Starlin Castro, hitting a team-best .336, is 0 for 6 lifetime versus Kershaw. In contrast, Marlon Byrd, who has hit safely in eight of nine games overall, has five hits in six at-bats against him.
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