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LAD@CHC: Fife tosses 5 1/3 shutout innings vs. Cubs

The Dodgers are one win over the D-backs from clinching the National League West.

But instead of sending their ace to the mound, they'll be throwing right-hander Stephen Fife.

Fife takes the hill in Wednesday's third contest of a four-game series against the D-backs at Chase Field as the Dodgers, whose magic number is down to two, go for their first NL West title since 2009.

A division crown would represent an extraordinary turnaround for Los Angeles, which began July in last place and now could be the first team to clinch a playoff berth.

Fife is getting the nod in place of left-hander Clayton Kershaw, as the NL Cy Young Award favorite gets added rest.

Fife is a creature of habit, and he's more than happy to take the ball any time, but to have a starter's mentality going into his outing is a plus.

"My last two appearances have been in relief and that really hasn't been part of the plan of my career," Fife said. "Relieving for me is a challenge. It's interesting having to get going in three or four minutes. I've tried to learn how. But basically, all I've ever done in my baseball life is start and I'm definitely more comfortable starting."

Right-hander Brandon McCarthy looks to stave off the Dodgers' celebration when he takes the mound Wednesday. The righty has been on a roll of late, posting a 2.10 ERA in his past four starts. He is 2-1 over that span and took a no-decision his last time out when he allowed two runs in six innings to the Rockies.

Dodgers: Kershaw OK with rest
Kershaw wants the ball whenever it's his turn in the rotation, but the Dodgers lefty is OK with taking a day off if it leads to October success for the Dodgers.

"I don't know if 'protect' is a good word," Kershaw said of the precautionary move made because he's already thrown a Major League-leading 223 innings. "They want me to be well-rested if I pitch deep [into October]. I don't think I need it, but I'm not going to argue about it."

• First baseman Adrian Gonzalez has hit safely in 14 of his last 17 games, batting .375 with three doubles, four home runs and 13 RBIs in that stretch.

D-backs: Ziegler battling illness
The respiratory virus circling the D-backs clubhouse has hit closer Brad Ziegler, who was hoping not to feel any worse Wednesday.

"That's the good thing about throwing only one inning," Ziegler said. "I just have to muster up enough energy for 10-15 minutes of going at it hard. If I was a starter, it would be way tougher."

• With 95 walks, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is five shy of Luis Gonzalez's franchise record of 100 set in 2001.

• The D-backs are hitting .322 with 15 doubles and six homers in their last six games.

Worth noting
• The D-backs are 2-6 in their last eight games against the Dodgers but 21-14 since 2012. They need one more victory for their third straight season series victory against Los Angeles. Comments