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Lackey opposes Wood in middle game of Cubs-Dodgers series

LOS ANGELES -- A pair of right-handers will take the stage in the second game of a three-game series between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

Chicago's John Lackey (4-4, 4.82 ERA) will oppose Brandon McCarthy (4-1, 3.76) after the Dodgers (29-20) took the opening game Friday in a 4-0 win behind another standout performance by Alex Wood.

Wood (6-0) dominated with a two-hitter in five shutout innings and extended his string of scoreless innings to 25 1/3. Wood, who has won his last five games, struck out eight, walked two and hit a batter. He threw 91 pitches, 59 strikes.

"I definitely feel confident right now, for sure," said Wood, who is 10-2 in 20 career games (15 starts) at home. "But at the same time, like I say every week, the consistency of my stuff has been there, and that's kind of where my confidence is coming from. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and give us a chance to win every time out and keep going from there."

Lackey, who has experienced success against the Dodgers, will attempt to slow them again offensively. In his career against Los Angeles, Lackey is 6-4 with a 1.73 ERA in 13 games (12 starts).

However, he wasn't so fortunate the last time they met. Lackey was on the losing end of a 2-0 decision on April 12 at Wrigley Field as McCarthy tossed a four-hit shutout in six innings, striking out four, walking three and capturing the win. It was the only setback for the Cubs during their three-game set with the Dodgers.

Lackey, who is making his 10th start this season, will try to rebound from his last start when he allowed five runs in seven innings in a 6-4 setback to the San Francisco Giants on May 21. That loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Lackey.

The key for many teams has been getting to Lackey early. Lackey has an ERA of 8.00 in the first inning this season and 4.15 from the second inning.

In four career games against Chicago, McCarthy is 1-1 with a 1.47 ERA.

Some of the Chicago players admitted that they believe the Dodgers are more improved than last year's squad that took the Cubs to six games before they won the National League Championship Series.

"They've got a good team. They've got a good team pretty much every year," said Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, the losing pitcher in Friday's setback. "Obviously, what (Clayton) Kershaw does year in and year out the guy that goes against him has to be lights out to win a game. The way Alex is pitching this year that pretty much adds another dominant starter to their rotation. Their bullpen has been tremendous.

"They've added some pieces, they've got a couple of young guys in the lineup and they're a good club year in and year out. They're a little bit better all around. They're a team we're going to have to compete against."

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