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05/08/10 8:02 PM ET

Ubaldo can be first to seven victories

It's only the second month of the season, but it's never too early for a debate about the top pitcher in the National League this year.

Is it Philadelphia's Roy Halladay or is it San Francisco's Tim Lincecum, the reigning two-time Cy Young Award winner, or his teammate Barry Zito? Livan Hernandez?

Who will be the first pitcher to 10 victories? Who will start the All-Star Game and what about the pitching Triple Crown?

Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez is being mentioned among the top hurlers in the game this year and on Sunday in a rubber match in Los Angeles, the Dodgers will see why.

Jimenez leads all of baseball with a 0.87 ERA and is tied for the most wins in the Major Leagues with six. His 44 strikeouts rank him eighth overall and seventh in the National League. He seems to be taking the mound at the right time for Colorado. With a victory Sunday, the Rockies will finish the nine-game road trip with a 5-4 record.

"We're sitting here with a chance to win another series, a chance to win a West Coast swing, and we've put ourselves in a very good spot with a very good pitcher pitching to make this a very successful journey for ourselves," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "That's how we got a lot of things going last year from the early part of June on."

The Dodgers, who will counter with Clayton Kershaw, will be ready. The team has already faced Lincecum and Arizona's Dan Haren this season. They have historically done well against Jimenez, who has a 5.84 ERA against them in 61 2/3 innings and 5-3 record.

Jimenez is 2-1 but with a 7.53 ERA in six starts at Dodger Stadium.

"I think Jimenez, he only snuck up on the people who maybe sit in the stands," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "But when you try to hit against him, I don't think it was any surprise how well he was doing. Certainly not only the fact that he has the upper-90s fastball, the changeup -- it's the movement on the fastball, too. You can catch up with a fastball that's 97 mph if it's straight, but he doesn't throw a lot of balls straight."

Kershaw managed just four outs and allowed seven earned runs in a start against the Brewers on Tuesday and saw his ERA jump by nearly two runs to 4.99. He hasn't fared well against the Rockies, who have a .260 batting average against him. Only the Phillies (.269), and the Brewers (.279) have hit him at a better clip in the NL.

"This is why it's unfair to ask him to lead a pitching staff, even though he's not afraid to take the responsibility," said Torre. "He's still growing."

Rockies: Stewart providing power
Ian Stewart has the only two home runs the Rockies have on this road trip, yet despite the power outage, the club is 4-4. ... Carlos Gonzalez has 18 RBIs in his past 11 games. ... Right-hander Jason Hammel threw seven innings and 113 pitches during an injury rehab start for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday night. The Rockies will have to decide whether to bring him back to start Wednesday against the Phillies.

Dodgers: Manny makes his return
Manny Ramirez went 1-for-4 on Saturday in his first game since April 22 and has hit safely in his last five games. ... Russell Martin has hit safely in his past four games and is hitting .313 (5-for-16) in that span. Overall, he has started each of the Dodgers' past 10 games and is hitting .175 (7-for-40) in that stretch.

Worth noting
Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier has hit safely in his past nine games and is hitting .514 (18-for-35) with four doubles, five home runs and 15 RBIs during that span. The feat marks his longest hitting streak since a nine-game stretch from July 19-28, 2009.

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


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