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  • Jan 9
    Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda is expected to face fellow
    countryman Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels for the first time in
    their major league careers Friday night in the series opener at Angel
    Stadium.

    The Dodgers (47-39) have won four in a row to climb
    eight games over .500 for the first time this season. They moved two
    percentage points ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks (48-40) for first
    place in the National League West after Arizona lost its series opener
    at the San Diego Padres 6-3 on Thursday night.

    The Angels (44-44)
    completed a 10-game road trip with a 4-1 loss against the Seattle
    Mariners on Thursday night
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    , dropping 12 games behind the Mariners
    for the second wild card from the American League. They’ll try to avoid
    falling below .500 for the first time since losing their season opener.

    Ohtani,
    who turned 24 on Thursday, is in his first major league season after
    playing for the Nippon Ham Fighters the previous five years. He began
    this season as a right-handed pitcher and designated hitter and was
    having success as a two-way player until he was placed on the disabled
    list June 8 with a grade 2 sprain of his right ulnar collateral
    ligament.

    He received stem-cell therapy and a
    platelet-rich-plasma injection to help heal the ligament without
    surgery, and was activated Tuesday before the Angels opened the
    three-game series against the Mariners.

    Maeda, 30, pitched in
    Japan for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp from 2008-15 and faced Ohtani a few
    times, but told the Southern California News Group earlier this week
    that he considers this a new challenge.

    “The image I had about
    him as a hitter has changed, so my approach to the way I pitch to him
    will change,” Maeda said through an interpreter. “I’m just going to
    approach it as if I’m facing a new hitter.”

    Maeda (5-5, 3.36) has
    pitched well since mid-May, when he didn’t allow a run in back-to-back
    starts against the Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies.

    His past two outings have been nearly as good.

    Maeda
    blanked the Chicago Cubs for seven innings in a 2-1 victory June 25,
    and then allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits over seven
    innings in a 3-1 loss to the Rockies on Saturday.

    Maeda has made
    two career starts against the Angels and is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA. He
    threw seven shutout innings in his last appearance against Los Angeles
    on June 27, 2017 and the Dodgers won 4-0 at Dodger Stadium.

    The
    starting lineup the Angels used against Seattle right-hander Mike Leake
    on Wednesday is a combined 3-for-25 off Maeda. Angels catcher Martin
    Maldonado is hitless in eight at-bats against Maeda, which may open the
    door for rookie Jose Briceno to get his first start since Sunday.

    Angels
    rookie right-hander Jaime Barria was originally scheduled to start the
    series opener against the Dodgers, but was moved up to Thursday after
    left-hander Tyler Skaggs went on the 10-day disabled list with a right
    adductor strain, becoming the 10th starter for the Angels to go on the
    DL this season.

    Felix Pena (1-0, 3.71 ERA) will make the start for the Angels and try to continue his transition from relief pitcher to starter.

    He has made two career appearances against the Dodgers, both out of the bullpen covering three scoreless innings overall.

    Neither
    Jarrod Dyson nor Justin Upton could tell whether Upton’s bases-loaded
    line drive to the deepest part of center field would have made it out of
    Angel Stadium.

    Dyson made sure nobody will ever know with a leaping, lunging catch that might have saved a win for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Paul
    Goldschmidt hit an early two-run homer and Zack Greinke pitched into
    the seventh inning of the Diamondbacks’ 12th victory in 16 games in June
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    , 7-4 over the struggling Los Angeles Angels
    on Monday night.

    Dyson had an early RBI single, and he prevented
    at least a couple of runs in the seventh with his catch on a possible
    grand slam by Upton. The nimble outfielder made it look relatively easy,
    turning Upton’s shot into a 390-foot sacrifice fly.

    ”It was real
    sweet to take four off the board like that,” Dyson said. ”I don’t know
    if it was going to go over, but if I didn’t catch it, there was going to
    be more than one baserunner scoring.”

    Greinke (6-5) gave up
    back-to-back homers by Upton and Albert Pujols in the fourth, but the
    Diamondbacks backed him with six early runs, responding well after
    blowing a two-run lead in the ninth inning of a home loss to the Mets on
    Sunday.

    Greinke left after giving up Kole Calhoun’s one-out
    single in the seventh with a 6-2 lead. Two more Angels reached base
    against Yoshihisa Hirano before Dyson dramatically tracked down Upton’s
    full-count drive to the wall.

    ”I knew I hit it hard, and it was
    going to be at least off the wall,” Upton said with a grimace. ”He was
    in good position, and he’s fast, and he just got it. … I did my job. I
    hit the ball on the barrel, and I thought I had a home run. That’s
    baseball.”

    Mike Trout nearly pulled his own leaping feat moments
    later, but Nick Ahmed’s homer glanced off his glove on the way over the
    center-field fence in the eighth for Arizona’s final run in its ninth
    win in 11 games.

    ”He’s one of a kind,” Arizona manager Torey
    Lovullo said of Dyson, who thinks he has taken away at least three
    potential homers by opponents this season. ”You just appreciate every
    play he makes, every little thing he does.”

    Ketel Marte also homered and Jeff Mathis had a two-run double for the Diamondbacks.

    Trout had two singles and two walks for the Angels, who have lost seven of eight to fall well out of playoff position in the AL.

    Upton
    – the Diamondbacks’ No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft – and Pujols connected
    to start the fourth for the Angels’ first back-to-back homers since
    last August.

    ”I think we have the makings to go on a run,”
    manager Mike Scioscia said. ”We’re still a good club
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    , and we’ll just focus on (Tuesday’s) game.”

    Arizona
    led 2-0 after two batters in its first game at Angel Stadium since June
    2015. Goldschmidt followed Jon Jay’s leadoff single with his 15th
    homer, giving him 26 hits in his last 51 at-bats during another torrid
    stretch for the Diamondbacks’ cornerstone.

    TROUT’S TIME

    Trout
    leads the majors with 62 walks and is batting .439 in June, but he
    didn’t score a run. He also was caught stealing for the first time in 14
    attempts this season by Mathis.

    BARRIA BLUES

    Jaime Barria
    (5-3) yielded six hits and six runs in four innings for the Angels. The
    21-year-old Panamanian rookie lost his second straight start after
    winning five of his first seven in the majors. ”Obviously, I wasn’t
    locating my fastball,” he said.

    BIG SAVE

    Archie Bradley
    got four outs for his third save. He threw 19 consecutive fastballs
    before his first off-speed pitch, and Upton grounded it into a double
    play for the first two outs of the ninth.

    ALBERT’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS

    Pujols’
    homer was the 626th of his career, pulling him closer to Ken Griffey
    Jr. (630) for sixth place on baseball’s career list. Pujols scored the
    1,751st run of his career, tying Jimmie Foxx for 21st place.

    TRAINER’S ROOM

    Diamondbacks:
    OFs Steven Souza Jr. (strained pectoral) and A.J. Pollock (broken
    thumb) are making progress in their recoveries, but aren’t cleared for
    full baseball activity.

    Angels: After batting .145 before his
    injury, Calhoun went 2 for 3 in his return from a nine-game absence with
    a strained right oblique muscle. Even with Calhoun back, the Angels
    have 13 players on their disabled list, including nine pitchers. …
    Right-handed reliever Jim Johnson played catch. He is out with back
    stiffness. … RHP Garrett Richards is playing catch, but still resting
    his left hamstring strain.

    UP NEXT

    Diamondbacks: Matt Koch (5-3, 4.09 ERA) is 3-0 in four starts since May 22. He has never faced the Angels.

    Angels:
    Relief pitcher Felix Pena (0-0, 10.13 ERA) is expected to make his
    first start of the season while Los Angeles patches a hole in its
    injury-plagued rotation. The offseason acquisition has been up and down
    from Triple-A Salt Lake, never earning a regular spot in the bullpen.