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NYM@LAD: Kemp talk hamstring injury, All-Star Game

This is the moment manager Don Mattingly has been waiting for all season long.

If all goes to plan, the Dodgers will have their regular 2-3-4 hitters in the lineup for the first time since May 13 when Los Angeles hosts San Diego in the teams' first game after the All-Star break.

Mark Ellis is back in the lineup, Matt Kemp is expected back from an injured left hamstring and Andre Ethier is ready to return from his strained left oblique.

Although Los Angeles will be without its leadoff hitter, Dee Gordon, the team heads into the second half of the season at its healthiest in months with the best record in the National League West.

"We're kind of getting back to the club that gives us the best chance to compete," Mattingly said. "At least right now we've put ourselves in a position to get our guys back."

But with injuries always a possibility and the team 5-15 in its last 20 games, Mattingly understands the challenge at hand.

"Just because Matt is back, it's not a crystal ball that it's going to be easy [going] forward," he said. "The pennant race really starts now. This thing has a long way to go."

While the Dodgers are thinking pennant race, the Padres are 13 games out of first place in the division.

Things haven't been great for them this season, but San Diego has shown some life lately. The team had won six games in a row before losing its final three games before the break.

"We've been right there; even in a few of our losses in the past month, we're still right there," manager Bud Black said. "We're playing well."

Dodgers: Leadoff spot in flux without Gordon
The loss of Gordon takes away a lot of speed at the top of the Dodgers' order and creates a question mark as to who will start there until he returns.

Gordon leads the Major Leagues with 30 steals. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb on the 30th one, which will keep him out of the lineup for at least six weeks.

"I don't know if it changes everything we do, but it's something we'll have to deal with until he returns," Mattingly said. "It changes the leadoff spot and how we work around that. It does change things a little bit."

• Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw will get the start for the Dodgers. He allowed two hits and a walk in Tuesday's All-Star Game in Kansas City. He's 6-5 this season, compared to 9-4 at the break last year, but his ERA this year is slightly lower -- 2.91 compared to 3.03.

Padres: Richard, Volquez pacing team thus far
In a season filled with injuries to the rotation, Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard have provided some consistency for the Padres.

The team has used 13 different starting pitchers this year so far, but Volquez and Richard have made all of their scheduled first-half starts.

"There's nothing more valuable to a team than your best five starting pitchers making every turn from April 1st," Black said. "Clayton was projected to be one of those five. He's held up his side of the bargain. The durability factor is essential to a team's success."

Richard will start Friday alfter allowing six runs in six innings against the Reds on Saturday.

Worth noting
The Dodgers are 7-2 against the Padres this season and opened the first half with a 3-1 series victory against San Diego. The teams meet nine times after the All-Star break. Comments