Artful Dodgers

Back in April, everyone thought the Los Angeles Dodgers would run away with the National League West, and that the San Diego Padres, with their kick-butt pitching staff anchored by Jake Peavy, Chris Young, and All-World closer Trevor Hoffman, were the Dodgers' only speed bump. Well, as this is being written -- mid-August -- the Dodgers are two games over .500, have lost 13 of their last 18, and languish six and a half games behind the front-running Arizona Diamondbacks. The second-place Pads are three back. The damnable Barry Bonds and his SF Giants are 17 and a half back. The latter has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but it warms the cockles of our heart to write it.

Anyhoo, the D-Backs and Pads have been fighting fang and nail for first, as second best in the NL West doesn't guarantee jack-squat in terms of an NL Wild Card spot. So with only 24 games left in the regular season -- 18 against the NL West -- the three-game stand against the Padres is a biggie for the 'backs.

Mon., Sept. 3, 1:40 p.m.; Tue., Sept. 4, 6:40 p.m.; Wed., Sept. 5, 6:40 p.m.

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