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COL@LAD: Beckett fans six over eight strong frames

Dodgers starter Josh Beckett will once again face the team that helped him become a Major Leaguer. The Marlins drafted Beckett with the second overall pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, and the rest is history.

The veteran will pitch in Miami on Friday night as the Dodgers open a weekend series at Marlins Park.

Beckett made 103 starts in a Marlins uniform and helped lead the club to a World Series championship in 2003. He was named World Series MVP, giving up only two earned runs over two starts that totaled 16 1/3 innings against the Yankees.

Now with the Dodgers, Beckett is intent on helping Los Angeles make another run at the World Series again this season after the club fell short in last season's National League Championship Series against the Cardinals.

So far, so good for the right-hander.

Beckett owns a 2.45 ERA in four starts this season, and he gave up only two runs on four hits in eight innings against the Rockies on April 25. However, he received a no-decision in an eventual 5-4 loss in 11 innings at Dodger Stadium.

Despite the Dodgers' loss, Beckett was happy to go eight innings after pitching just 14 combined frames over his first three starts.

"It was nice to give the bullpen a little bit of a break. I certainly owed that to them after the last few outings," said Beckett. "The way my spring went, I pulled my Spring Training into my first couple of starts."

Beckett will oppose Tom Koehler, who makes his second career start against the Dodgers. The right-hander gave up two runs in five innings against Los Angeles in a loss last year.

The Marlins head into the weekend series having swept the Braves, marking their first series victory over an NL East rival.

The high-powered Dodgers present another tough challenge for Miami, which is relying heavily on its pitching.

"They're another good team that's got a lot of depth in a lot of different areas," manager Mike Redmond said. "We'll just continue what we're doing, playing day to day. I like the way we're swinging the bats and the way we're pitching. Pitching is always going to be key for us. If we get some big hits, we're going to be fine."

Marlins: Major strides in one year
Playing close to breaking even in the first month of the season gave the Marlins some momentum and confidence heading into May. After all, last year, they were 14-41 after two months. So, a respectable start is a continued part of the maturation process.

"Our offense has improved," Redmond said. "We haven't played as good defensively as I know we can, but we'll get better. Our bullpen has taken a little while to kind of settle in. I think that always comes hand in hand trying to figure out which pieces are going to go in what inning."

The team went into an eight-game slide early once Jacob Turner went on the disabled list with a right shoulder sprain. Turner is slated to come off the DL and pitch on Saturday.

"Losing Jacob Turner that first couple of weeks sent us into a little frenzy there," Redmond said. "I think we recovered from that. But overall, I'm happy with the way we've competed and the way we've played. They're battling. We're competing. We're playing hard."

Dodgers: Kershaw expected to return to club Monday
• Defending National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw could return to the Dodgers' rotation in time to start against the Nationals on Monday. The lefty will throw a bullpen session on Friday in Miami.

"It sounds like he came out good," manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw's rehab start on Wednesday. "We'll have him throw a 'pen and go from there."

Worth noting
• Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee picked up his 300th career RBI on Thursday night against the Braves, and added his 301st in the seventh inning -- a single that drove in the decisive run in Miami's 5-4 win over Atlanta.

• Garrett Jones, who homered in Thursday's victory, is 2-for-3 with a solo homer in his career against Beckett.

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