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Los Angeles Dodgers Prove They Still Own Arizona Diamondbacks. Up Next: St. Louis Cardinals, Tonight Through Wednesday.

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A disturbing trend is emerging in Arizona Diamondbacks land, one that fans have seen before in these parts.

What we're talking about is the team's inability to produce enough runs per game to win. Dropping nine on the Los Angeles Dodgers during Friday's 9-4 victory -- a win that featured Jon Garland, who was signed in the offseason to replace the departed Randy Johnson, recording his first National League victory -- is nice and all, but when you can only muster three runs in the following two games, you're not going to win very often.

This frustrating inability to produce runs -- or hits for that matter -- was most evident yesterday during the Dodgers' series-clinching 3-1 victory at Chase Field. Following a weirdo "four-out play" that allowed L.A. to knot the score in the second inning off of hard-luck loser Dan Haren (0-2), Randy Wolf of the Dodgers retired 16 consecutive D-Backs from the second to the eighth. In that second-to-last frame, Arizona showed a little fight, but Chris Snyder's sacrifice attempt backfired, Tony Clark fanned, and Chris Young was retired on a fielder's choice, wasting another fine effort by Haren, arguably the best two-loss starter in the bigs.

More of the same occurred during the Dodgers' 11-2 whooping on Saturday. Eric Stults, making an emergency start to replace the injured Hiroki Kuroda, made Arizona look like the Triple-A squads he has been facing as an Albuquerque Isotope. Stults worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out five. Meanwhile, Arizona's 911 starter Yusmeiro Petit, subbing for the irreplaceable Brandon Webb, threw four good innings before former D-Back All-Star Orlando Hudson went yard in the fifth, jump-starting a double-digit run blitzkrieg. Petit was charged with three while the bullpen screwed the pooch to the tune of eight runs.

Things don't get any easier tonight when the D-Backs (2-4) continue their nine-game season-opening homestand against the St. Louis Cardinals (5-2). The very-capable Redbirds are coming off a sweep of the Houston Astros that included a complete game, three-hit performance by Kyle Lohse. Luckily, Arizona won't have to face the crafty righty, but they are scheduled to step into the batter's box against hurlers like Chris Carpenter, who pitched no-hit ball through seven against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. Plus, Arizona will be without the services of Webb, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Tuesday) on account of tightness in his pitching shoulder.

Not a good way to start the season, fellas.

The projected starters for the three-game series between the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals at Chase Field looks like this:

Tonight @ 6:40 p.m.: Arizona's Doug Davis (0-1, 7.20) vs. St. Louis' Todd Wellemeyer (0-1, 9.00). TV: MLB.TV. Radio: KTAR-FM 92.3.

Tuesday @ 6:40 p.m.: Arizona's Max Scherzer (first start of 2009) vs. St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (1-0, 0.00). TV: FSN-AZ. Radio: KTAR-AM 620.

Wednesday @ 12:40 p.m.: Arizona's Jon Garland (1-0, 3.86) vs. St. Louis' Joel Pineiro (1-0, 2.70). TV: FSN-AZ. Radio: KTAR-AM 620.

More info: www.dbacks.com.

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