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04/14/10 7:14 PM ET

Giants, Dodgers renew historic rivalry in LA

Riding a string of quality starts that have added up to ... well, a quality start, the Giants invade Los Angeles eager to join the Dodgers in a refresher course on baseball rivalries.

The Giants and the Dodgers have already dried up more bad blood than the Red Sox and the Yankees will ever spill.

Their rivalry obviously reverts to their New York years, so it is only fitting that they will renew hostilities during Day 2 of the Dodgers' observance of Jackie Robinson Day, accommodating the fact the Giants were off on Thursday's actual 67th anniversary of the legend's erasure of baseball's color line.

Accordingly, the Dodgers and Giants will both wear number 42 in Robinson's memory.

The game will also mark the fourth anniversary of an admittedly historically less-significant event: the last time the Giants faced their rivals while leading the National League West. That date was April 15, 2006 -- when the Dodgers had the pleasure of knocking the Giants off (3-1) and out of the division lead.

Friday will be the Giants' 11th day of this season in first place -- more than triple the total number of days they spent on top the previous three seasons.

Jonathan Sanchez's three-hit, 11-strikeout gem on Wednesday continued the Giants' string of marvelous starts. How dominant has the San Francisco rotation been? Manager Bruce Bochy had to bring closer Brian Wilson into that 6-0 game just to get him some work.

Giants starter Todd Wellemeyer will get his initiation into this rivalry, but he is no stranger to the passions attendant to games between sworn enemies. The righty has spent time on both sides of the Cardinals-Cubs feud.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers' Vicente Padilla will be anxious to leave a better impression that he did in his first two starts of the season, in which he combined to allow 11 earned runs and 14 hits in 8 2/3 innings.

Giants: Catchers are a hit
The Giants' catching position continues to sizzle, no matter who is in it. Starter Bengie Molina, one of the NL's early batting leaders with a .455 average, got the day off Wednesday. So replacement Eli Whiteside detonated the victory over the Pirates with a three-run homer. The 10 RBIs between Molina and Whiteside are tops at the position among all Major League teams. ... Aaron Rowand's 14 hits are high among NL leadoff batters.

Dodgers: Ethier's walk-off tear
Including the walk-off hit that propelled the Dodgers to a 6-5 victory against the D-backs in extra innings on Thursday, Andre Ethier now has 10 walk-off hits in his career. ... The only active Dodgers player who has had more than three at-bats against Wellemeyer is Reed Johnson, who is 5-for-15 with four strikeouts against the right-hander in his career. ... Matt Kemp, Casey Blake, and Manny Ramirez are streaking with multiple hits in five consecutive games. ... James Loney likely won't be in the lineup on Sunday, manager Joe Torre said, if Giants starter Barry Zito (2-0, 2.25) makes his scheduled start. Loney is 1-for-20 with six career strikeouts against the left-hander. Loney is 3-for-17 against Saturday's starter, Tim Lincecum. Loney does have three steals this season, nearly half of his career-high total seven, which he reached both of the past two seasons. Loney stole a base in the sixth inning Thursday night and might have added another if it weren't for a wild-pitch ruling in the bottom of the second.

Worth noting
Giants batting coach Hensley Meulens missed Wednesday's game to join his wife, Gyselle, for the birth of a son, Elijah. ... Eugenio Velez will be well-dressed for Friday night's game; his "San Francicso" road jersey has been corrected after the outfielder had worn the typo in the Giants' season-opening series in Houston.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.