With Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu on the disabled list and Zack Greinke pitching through a sore right elbow, the Dodgers have needed Dan Haren to step up in August. And he's done just that.
After a string of five straight losses, Haren has won three of his last four starts to steady both his place in the rotation and the Dodgers' first-place standing on the National League West.
He's notched victories over the Angels, Braves and Mets during that stretch, fending off Los Angeles' Southern California rivals and a potential playoff foe in Atlanta.
"I have to be able to step up," Haren said. "I've been one of the five guys all year and however many starts I have left, they have to be as good as they can be."
With Los Angeles holding a 4 1/2-game lead over San Francisco as the season enters the home stretch, manager Don Mattingly feels pretty good about the state of his club.
"We've put ourselves in a position where we don't have to worry about anyone else but ourselves," said Mattingly.
San Diego is out of the playoff race, but Padres fans will no doubt be eager to see Andrew Cashner take the mound on Friday in his second start since returning from shoulder soreness that sidelined him for two months.
In his first outing off the disabled list, Cashner lasted five innings against Arizona and gave up two runs off seven hits and two walks with one strikeout.
It was far from the dominating stuff that Cashner has occasionally flashed, but he was nonetheless encouraged. He received a no-decision, as his winless streak was stretched to nine starts despite the fact that he's recorded a 3.06 ERA over that span.
"I didn't feel that I commanded anything, but I gave us a chance to win," Cashner said. "I am a better pitcher than the way I showed tonight, but it was definitely a step in the right direction."
Padres: Cabrera tests out hamstring
Shortstop Everth Cabrera ran sprints in the outfield on Wednesday, the next step in his rehabilitation from a hamstring strain.
Manager Bud Black said Cabrera will soon resume taking grounders and practice running out of the batter's box and rounding the bases, which he termed as one of the final steps before a Minor League rehab stint.
"We did some drills out here with him out of the box and really pushing his intensity," Black said. "He's getting closer. ... When you see him out here running the bases, then he's real close. Once you run bases, you start playing."
Black said it was fortunate that Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore reached the playoffs and could still be playing when Cabrera is ready for game action.
Dodgers: Van Slyke injures ankle
Left fielder Scott Van Slyke, a chronic ankle turner, said the latest injury to his right ankle that forced him from Wednesday night's game might sideline him a day or two or maybe not at all.
"Maybe a couple days. I've done it before -- ice it, meds, elevate," said Van Slyke, who homered in the third inning but had to leave the 3-1 win over the D-backs at Chase Field in the fourth inning with a mild right ankle sprain. X-rays were negative.
Van Slyke was backing up center fielder Yasiel Puig, who short-hopped a sinking liner by Jordan Pacheco. The ball glanced off Puig's glove into the direction of Van Slyke. As he picked up the ball with his bare hand and planted his right leg, the turf gave way, his right ankle turned badly as he collapsed to the turf.
"I just went to stop, and the ground gave out," Van Slyke said. "Really bad grass here."
Still on the ground, Van Slyke flipped a wild throw toward the infield that allowed Alfredo Marte to score and Pacheco to take second base.
Van Slyke was able to walk off the field with Dodgers VP of medical services Stan Conte and was replaced by Carl Crawford. Van Slyke said he has sprained the ankle repeatedly, so he wasn't overly concerned when he felt the "stinging pain."
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.