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Diamondbacks ready for challenge that is Dodgers

STATS/TSX

LOS ANGELES -- No team in the major leagues lost fewer games this season than the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But no team in baseball beat them more often than the Arizona Diamondbacks, who took 11 of 19 from Los Angeles during the regular season. In short, 19 percent of the Dodgers' 58 losses came to the Diamondbacks.

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo, though, said his team's success against the Dodgers this season is not relevant to the teams' National League Division Series matchup, which begins with Game 1 on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

"I don't know the exact reason why we did (have success vs. the Dodgers)," Lovullo said Thursday after his team's workout. "I just think we have good players. I just think we have guys that like to step up and they're not intimidated.

"Look, the Dodgers got on a tremendous run there, and I think they were steamrolling teams and intimidating teams, and I don't think we have that mentality. We love that battle mindset. We love that challenge."

While the Dodgers haven't played since the regular-season finale Sunday, the Diamondbacks had to fight their way through an 11-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday in the NL wild-card game.

Lovullo used starters Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray in the game, leaving him with Taijuan Walker to start Friday against the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. Walker (9-9, 3.49 ERA) was 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts against Los Angeles this season and is 2-1, 4.79 in four career outings vs. the Dodgers.

"They know what I've got, and I kind of know what they've got and I kind of know their weaknesses," Walker said. "So I think if I just follow my game plan, I think it should be good."

While Walker got the nod, Lovullo said he still had not decided on his starting lineup. One question would be third base -- Jake Lamb played there in the wild-card game and had four hits, but he is a left-handed hitter, making it a difficult challenge to face the lefty Kershaw.

"It's a tough decision," Lovullo said Thursday. "You're walking off a game where you get four hits and you're right in the middle of everything versus lefties and righties, it just didn't matter. (He's been) one of our main performers and offensive catalysts all year long. So I've got to figure some things out. I haven't quite gotten to that decision yet. But it's at the top of my list.

"I want to make sure that I give us the best chance to win the game tomorrow and match up with Kershaw the best we possibly can."

Kershaw (18-4, 2.31 ERA) has enjoyed success against Arizona this year and throughout his career. He went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in two starts vs. the Diamondbacks this season, and he is 14-8, 2.55 in 26 career starts against Arizona.

However, Kershaw has experienced his troubles in the postseason -- posting a career mark of 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 games (14 starts). If he can find anything positive about his past playoff performances, it is that he has learned from them.

"I know what to expect, I guess, which is always a good thing," Kershaw said Thursday. "But other than that, I think every situation is different and every year is a little bit unique as far as who we face and how our team sizes up.

"(I'm) thankful for another opportunity. It doesn't happen often when your team wins five (division titles) in a row. It doesn't happen when you are getting to the playoffs that often. I don't feel like I take it for granted, (and I'm) definitely not trying to do that this year either."

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