LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been around the major-league game long enough -- 30 years, to be precise -- to know the desperate straits his team is in, three games out with six to play.
He also has been around it long enough to know how hard it can be for a frontrunner to finish off a pennant race. That's the solace he's clinging to, that the St. Louis Cardinals might stumble in trying to clinch the National League's second wild-card spot between now and Wednesday.
"It's hard to clinch," Mattingly said. "It's hard to win games at the end."
To be in position to reach the playoffs even if St. Louis stumbles in its last two series against first-place teams Washington and Cincinnati, though, the Dodgers have to win, maybe every game. For that to happen, they have to avoid the offensive swoon they spent most of September in before the past two games.
And, probably, they're going to need two starts from ace Clayton Kershaw. That also is contingent, in this case on Kershaw's health. He went 12 days between starts before pitching Sunday in Cincinnati, but told Mattingly he felt "nothing" in his injured right hip entering Friday night's start at Dodger Stadium.
"But you still know you've got to pay attention. If it comes back or he feels anything, then we've got to get him out of there," Mattingly said.
Here are Friday's lineups vs. the last-place Colorado Rockies:
Tyler Colvin CF
Chris Nelson 3B
Matt McBride RF
Andrew Brown LF
D.J. LeMahieu 2B
Mark Ellis 2B
Luis Cruz 3B
Matt Kemp CF
Andre Ethier RF