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Preview: Zito-Led Giants Take On Dodgers, Continue Battle For NL West

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants will continue their race towards the top of the National League West Division when the two rivals kick off a three-game series tonight at AT&T Park.

The Giants are 4 1/2 games out of first place in the division, while Los Angeles sits five games off the pace.

San Francisco just lost the last two portions of a three-game series versus the Boston Red Sox and dropped a 5-1 decision in Sunday's series finale. Tim Lincecum wasn't himself and fell to 8-3 this season after giving up four runs in a career-low three innings of work.

"We have to get this pitching on track. It's kind of gotten contagious," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said on the team's site.

Aubrey Huff had the lone RBI and Edgar Renteria ended with a team-best two hits for the Giants, losers in four of five and six of the last nine games.

Barry Zito will take the mound in tonight's series opener with LA and has lost back-to-back starts. In last Wednesday's 6-3 loss at Houston, Zito allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings with four K's and two walks. The lefty, who is 2-4 in his last six decisions, is 7-4 with a 3.45 ERA in 15 total starts this season.

The left-hander and 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner has been impressive at home this season, going 5-1 in eight starts by the Bay. Zito did not factor in the outcome of a 2-1 loss at Dodger Stadium back on April 18, as he limited Los Angeles to a run over 7 1/3 innings. He is 6-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 14 career starts against the Dodgers.

Los Angeles lost two of three meetings with the New York Yankees over the weekend and is coming off last night's 8-6 loss in 10 innings. Robinson Cano put the Yankees ahead for good with a two-run homer in the 10th inning and Ramon Troncoso was dealt the loss for putting the go-ahead run on base.

Clayton Kershaw started for manager Joe Torre and fired seven innings of two- run ball in the no-decision. Kershaw fanned five batters and walked none, while closer Jonathan Broxton gave up four runs in an inning of work.

"They're dangerous," said Dodgers skipper Joe Torre, who managed the Yankees from 1996-2007 and won four World Series titles. "You can't count your chickens before you get them in the barn. [Broxton] is rock-solid for me, it just wasn't his night."

Ronnie Belliard homered and Rafael Furcal chipped in two hits, two RBI and a run scored for the Dodgers, who have lost eight of their last 10 games.

Chad Billingsley is slated to pitch for Torre's club tonight and has been sidelined with a strained groin. Billingsley landed on the disabled list after his last start on June 11 versus the LA Angels of Anaheim, as he was rocked for seven runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 frames of a 10-1 loss.

Billingsley, a right-hander, has lost two straight starts and is 6-4 with a 4.34 ERA in 13 outings this season. He is 4-1 in six road starts this season and 4-2 in 15 career matchups (10 starts) with San Francisco.

Los Angeles took two of three meetings with the Giants at Chavez Ravine back in April and has won eight of the past 12 contests between the clubs.