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Dodgers-Cardinals Preview

The Associated Press

Zach Greinke's latest strong outing was wasted by a slumping Los Angeles Dodgers offense, something that also happened the last time he took the mound at Busch Stadium.

After again struggling at the plate in their return from the All-Star break, the Dodgers will try to give Greinke some backing Saturday when he faces the St. Louis Cardinals on the road for the first time since last fall's NL championship series.

Greinke (11-5, 2.73 ERA), who is among baseball's leaders in wins, struck out two in one perfect inning of relief during Tuesday's All-Star game.

In his most recent start, the right-hander was charged with a 4-1 loss at Detroit on July 9. He allowed three runs with eight strikeouts in seven innings, but the Dodgers had only five hits and went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.

Greinke experienced a similar scenario at St. Louis in Game 1 of the NLCS. The offense went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position while Greinke struck out 10 and allowed two runs in eight innings of a 3-2 loss in 13.

That remains the only time he hasn't won over his last six starts against St. Louis. He is 5-0 in that span with a 1.74 ERA, including a 6-4 home victory in Game 5.

He may need a similar outing since Los Angeles (54-44) is batting .198 while scoring 15 runs during a 3-4 stretch. The Dodgers managed five hits Friday and lost 3-2 in the opener of this three-game set.

"It's a game we had a chance because we were able to put some runs on the board late," manager Don Mattingly told MLB's official website. "In close games - this is what we talked about before the game - it's making that key pitch, getting that big out and getting that big hit when you need it."

Joe Kelly (1-1, 3.44) is looking to capitalize on the slumping Dodgers in his second start since missing nearly three months due to a strained left hamstring.

The right-hander was hammered for six runs and seven hits in three innings before the offense bailed him out with seven unanswered runs in a 7-6 win at Milwaukee on July 11.

Kelly will again oppose Greinke after doing so twice in the NLCS, going 0-1 while allowing six runs in 11 innings. However, he's yielded three earned runs in 11 1-3 innings while splitting two regular-season home matchups with the Dodgers.

That includes a 5-1 victory Aug. 6 that kicked off a seven-start stretch at home during which he's gone 5-1 with a 2.40 ERA.

Matt Holliday is 6 for 14 (.429) with six RBIs in his last four home games. The Cardinals left fielder had an RBI double and a two-run homer in the opener of this series after going 0 for 13 in three playoff meetings in St. Louis last year.

He's 3 for 17 over the past three years versus Greinke, including the postseason.

Mattingly isn't too concerned with Matt Kemp claiming he's open to a trade before the July 31 non-waiver deadline if he doesn't get regular playing time, particularly in center. He was moved to left two months ago.

"The headline catches your eye and you read it and you go, 'It's not that big of a deal,'" Mattingly said while claiming he didn't mind that Kemp wanted to play center. "That's fine, he can view himself however he wants. I'm playing him in left."

Kemp is 2 for 17 with 10 strikeouts in his past six games after going 0 for 3 Friday. He struck out with the bases loaded in the third.

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