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BOS@LAD: Nolasco shuts down Sox over eight innings

The Dodgers may own a comfortable lead in the National League West, but there's still plenty for them to play for aside from a first division title in four years.

When the Dodgers take the field for Wednesday afternoon's rubber match against the Cubs, they'll do so trailing the Braves by 2 1/2 games in the race for home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

Los Angeles has been a juggernaut since the All-Star break, with a Major League-leading 30-8 mark.

Cubs right-hander Edwin Jackson (7-13, 5.00 ERA) gets a crack at his former club on Wednesday afternoon. He's coming off a start in San Diego in which he blew a six-run first-inning lead.

After the start, a visibly upset Jackson called his performance, "a terrible job, flat out. There's no other way to put it."

August has traditionally been Jackson's best month. His 18 August victories are more than he has in any other month, and his 3.49 ERA is his only mark below four.

But this season has been a different story. Jackson has made four August starts, posting a 6.95 ERA and allowing 32 hits and nine walks in 22 innings.

Opposite Jackson will be Dodgers right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who tossed eight scoreless frames in a win against the Red Sox on Friday. Nolasco is unbeaten in five starts this month, going 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA.

The club's No. 4 starter, Nolasco would likely be the ace on about a dozen big league clubs. He's happy in his role with the red-hot Dodgers though.

"We've been playing great, and we're just staying focused, no matter who the opponent is," Nolasco said. "Against good teams, we're playing well. Everybody is just doing their job, and we have great balance throughout the whole team."

Cubs: Rizzo returns against righty
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will return to the lineup Wednesday afternoon -- a day after manager Dale Sveum opted not to start the left-handed-hitting Rizzo against Clayton Kershaw.

"He's swinging the bat much better now," Sveum said of his first baseman. "I want to give him a few days off here and there, and this was a good one to give him off."

Rizzo, who is hitting .231 on the year, snapped a four game-hitting streak Tuesday after he entered the game late and struck out.

Dodgers: Kemp eyes rehab stint
Matt Kemp could begin a rehab assignment as early as Thursday, after the injured center fielder ran the bases Tuesday for the first time in his recovery from a sprained left ankle.

Kemp has missed more than a month of action since he injured the ankle while sliding into home plate against the Nationals on July 21.

"I just need to get at-bats, that's it," Kemp said. "I've been sitting out a while. I need to polish up on my swing.

Worth noting
• Dodgers utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. has eight hits and two walks in 16 plate appearances against Jackson. He's the only Los Angeles hitter with a career average above .300 against Jackson.

• Cubs center fielder Junior Lake leads all rookies with his 49 hits since the All-Star break.

• The Los Angeles pitching staff has posted a 2.19 ERA in August, the eighth-lowest monthly total in Dodgers history. Comments