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Astros Try For Second Straight Series Win In Matinee With Dodgers

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t won a series in over three weeks and have a chance to end that drought this afternoon in the finale of a three-game set against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

The Dodgers recorded their last series win at Pittsburgh in a rain-shortened set from May 9-11 at PNC Park, and ended a three-game slide with Tuesday’s 5-4 win in the middle portion of this series. Jerry Sands continued to impress with a grand slam in the third inning and Jay Gibbons added a solo shot early on for Los Angeles, which won for just the third time in 11 tries.

“Jerry just keeps getting better and better,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said on the ballclub’s site.

Los Angeles starter Chad Billingsley gave up four runs, five hits and three walks over six innings and fanned nine batters to register his first win since April 22. Mike MacDougal, Rubby De La Rosa and Javy Guerra each tossed a scoreless inning of relief with Guerra posting his first save.

Andre Ethier has been held out of the starting lineup in each of the past two games for rest and is likely to return to his usual spot Wednesday. He injured his left big toe, lower back and right elbow after crashing into the outfield wall Sunday at Chicago, but hit a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning.

“I need him to be 100 percent,” said Mattingly. “Last year he got banged up. He was hobbling around the whole second half of the year. You just don’t want to see that.”

The Dodgers are 2-3 on a six-game road trip that started with two losses in three games against the White Sox this past weekend. Taking the mound for LA today will be Ted Lilly, who is 3-4 with a 4.71 earned run average in 10 starts. Lilly has alternated wins and losses over his previous four decisions and did not factor in the outcome of Friday’s 6-4 win over the White Sox. He gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

Lilly has made 13 career starts against the Astros and is 7-2 with a 2.36 ERA over that stretch.

Houston had won two straight and three of four games before dropping last night’s middle contest of this series. J.A. Happ drew the start for the Astros and fell to 3-6 after he permitted five runs — one earned — in five innings of work. Happ struck out four and walked two batters.

“Happ had that third inning that elevated his pitch count,” Houston manager Brad Mills said postgame.

Carlos Lee hit a two-run single and Hunter Pence added an RBI double for Houston, which was looking to match a season-high three-game winning streak from April 30-May 3.

The Astros will also host Arizona for three games on their six-game homestand and will send Aneury Rodriguez to the mound Wednesday. Rodriguez, in his first major league season, is 0-2 with a 5.72 ERA in 13 games, four of which have been starts. He was last in action during a 5-2 win at Toronto on Friday and held the Blue Jays to a pair of runs over 5 1/3 innings.

Rodriguez, a right-hander, has never faced Los Angeles and is winless (0-2) in seven games (2 starts) at home.

Los Angeles and Houston are squaring off for the first time since the Dodgers won four of six matchups a year ago. LA is 7-3 in the past 10 games in this series.

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