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STL@LAD: Greinke fans 10 over seven impressive frames

The Dodgers will continue their fight for first place in the National League West with a four-game series that starts on Thursday in Colorado, where the Rockies have been struggling. Los Angeles took sole possession of first place on Monday for the first time since April 24, but the club has since fallen back behind San Francisco.

Manager Don Mattingly said on Wednesday he expects the Dodgers and Giants to battle for the division throughout the rest of the season.

"Here's what I do know: I know we got a good club. And I know they've got a good club," Mattingly said. "I don't feel like we're going to fade away, and I don't think they'll fade away. … I'm prepared for a battle. You give them credit for how good they are. They do a nice job over there, they play the game right."

The Dodgers have won 11 of their last 16, and they'll hand Zack Greinke the ball on Thursday. He's been superb this year, with a 10-4 record and 2.78 ERA. Though he struggled two starts ago against Kansas City, he was great on Saturday against the Cardinals, striking out 10 and walking none over seven innings of one-run ball.

"I felt good. The offspeed was sharper than last time, and the command was good," Greinke said of the start. "And I got a lead, so I was able to attack the zone."

The struggling Rockies have their work cut out for them against Greinke, who's fifth in the NL with 111 strikeouts. He's 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against Colorado this season.

Colorado will send Franklin Morales to the mound. Morales spent the month of June in the bullpen, but will be pushed back into starting duty after another rash of injuries in the Rockies' rotation. He's 4-4 on the season with a 5.75 ERA.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss thinks Morales will give his team a competitive start. "He's probably not going to throw 110 pitches, but I feel like he's stretched out enough to give us some length as a starter," Weiss said. "It's not a situation where he's only going to go three innings. He can go deeper into games."

Dodgers: DL decision on Hanley coming soon
With shortstop Hanley Ramirez continuing to battle various ailments, a stint on the disabled list could be forthcoming.

"I think tomorrow's our drop-dead day as we get into Colorado," Mattingly said. "We'd like him to be ready to go after the All-Star Game."

Ramirez was not in the starting lineup again Wednesday, although he pinch-hit in the ninth. He's started just once in the last nine games -- on Saturday against St. Louis -- and he lasted just two innings in that game before tweaking his left calf.

"We'd like to get him totally healthy, that's the main thing," Mattingly said. "We don't want to DL anybody, and we're obviously better with Hanley. But we also want him healthy."

Rockies: Chacin sidelined with strained, frayed rotator cuff
Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin was diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff and labral pathology on Wednesday, placing the right-hander's immediate future on the field in question. He was expected to meet with team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas J. Noonan before determining a course of action for his recovery.

Chacin pitched to a 14-10 record and a 3.47 ERA last season, but he missed Spring Training and the first month of this season while dealing with a strained shoulder. Now, Chacin is believed to have a fraying of his rotator cuff.

The 26-year-old last pitched on Saturday, when he allowed seven earned runs in a loss to the Brewers, and he's logged a 1-7 record and a 5.40 ERA in 11 starts for Colorado this season.

Worth noting
• The Dodgers went 13-19 in their first 32 home games through June 4, and they've gone 9-4 in their last 13.

• Right-hander Juan Nicasio is 2-1 with a 5.51 ERA in three starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs, after going 5-5, 5.92 in 14 starts with the Rockies and having increasing difficulty staying in games. In his most recent start, a win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, Nicasio gave up one run in five innings but needed 99 pitches. He must find efficiency before being effective in the Majors.

"He's got to be more efficient," Weiss said. "It usually comes down to your fastball command. When Juan commands his fastball, things tend to fall into place for him."

• The Rockies hope veteran righty Brett Tomko, signed after the season began, is making forward strides at Colorado Springs. After two abbreviated outings, one because of rain and one because of ineffectiveness, Tomko held Iowa to six hits and no runs in five innings of his most-recent outing. He is scheduled to pitch for the Sky Sox on Thursday, although that could be altered. Comments