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Notes: Loaiza to make scheduled start

Notes: Loaiza to make scheduled start

DENVER -- It was far from a rousing endorsement, but manager Grady Little said he still plans to start Esteban Loaiza on Friday night in Arizona against the Diamondbacks.

"As of right now, Loaiza is the starter Friday," Little said of the right-hander, who has lost his last two starts while walking 11 in a total of eight innings. The seven walks Loaiza issued on Sunday were a career high.

"The guy has been a strike-thrower his whole career, but he's struggled his last couple outings. He's healthy. As long as nothing is bothering the guy, he's got to get the ball in the strike zone."

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Loaiza spent the first four months of the season on the disabled list. While rehabilitating from a protruding disc in his neck, he tore cartilage in his right knee and underwent arthroscopic surgery on June 28. The veteran righty has pitched seven innings or more twice since the Dodgers claimed him from Oakland to take Randy Wolf's spot in the starting rotation.

Loaiza is not taking treatment for any injury, which Little said suggests that his unusual control problems might be the effect of a dead-arm period pitchers often encounter during the course of a long season.

Little yanked Loaiza after 3 1/3 and 4 2/3 innings in his last two starts, and said Loaiza would be on a short leash on Friday.

"That goes without saying, and not just [for] him, at this stage of the season," said Little. "It's pretty much anyone."

A Little predicting: The manager likes to play the numbers game, and before Tuesday's doubleheader, with 13 games to play and a 79-70 record, he was asked how many wins will be needed for the Dodgers to earn a postseason berth.

"Ten, I'd say," said Little, meaning 89 wins would win the Wild Card. Division-leader Arizona already has 84 wins. The Dodgers won the Wild Card last year with 88 wins.

Game 1 lineup: Little said he expected Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp and James Loney to start both games on Tuesday. Russell Martin, Andre Ethier and Andy LaRoche started the opener and they were expected to be replaced in the nightcap by Mike Lieberthal, Luis Gonzalez and Nomar Garciaparra.

Garciaparra continues to be hobbled by a strained calf muscle that Little said has "a lot of similarities" -- in terms of limiting his playing time -- to the strained quad muscle that ultimately knocked him out of the playoffs last year.

"Right now, he's ready to let it all hang out and see what happens, at whatever risk," Little said. "But not two games in one day. If he keeps swinging the bat, he's the primary third baseman. He's playing good baseball and rounding the bases good."

Hull healing: Reliever Eric Hull, who said he felt his groin muscle "pop" while quelling a fifth-inning rally on Sunday, played catch on Tuesday. He said he returned to the mound after six days when he suffered a similar injury last year.

Postseason tickets: Online registration is available through Sept. 24 for the opportunity to purchase tickets for potential Dodgers' 2007 National League Division Series postseason games at Dodger Stadium.

Registering for tickets online at dodgers.com will be the only way to purchase individual Dodgers home game postseason tickets, as there will be no tickets for sale on site at Dodger Stadium, Ticketmaster Ticket Outlets, or via telephone. Since there are a limited number of postseason tickets available through this process, applicants must fill out and submit a registration form on dodgers.com to have the opportunity to purchase postseason tickets.

Winners in the NLDS registration will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to one game that may be played at Dodger Stadium. There is no charge to register, and once applicants have done so, they are eligible for the League Championship Series and the World Series, as well. There is no obligation to buy, and more details are available at dodgers.com.

Dodgers Emmy: Producer Brad Zager and the FSN Prime Ticket crew won "Best Sports Coverage" award at the L.A. Area Emmy's for last year's Sept. 18 game against the Padres, when the Dodgers hit four consecutive home runs in the ninth inning.

Coming up: Dodgers righty Brad Penny (16-4, 2.88) opposes Colorado's Josh Fogg (9-9, 4.98) on Wednesday night at 5:35 PT at Coors Field.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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