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Dodgers hope to sweep Diamondbacks — but no plans for a pool party

Dave Roberts talks attitude and Yu Darvish before game 3 of the NLDS.

The pool resides beyond the right-field fence at Chase Field, surrounded by deck chairs like an oasis in this desert. Fountains burble fresh streams of chlorinated water. A hot tub sits nearby. The water only goes four feet deep, which would explain the signs ringing the area.

"Danger," the signs read. "No Jumping. Violators Will Be Ejected."

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On Monday night, in Game 3 of a National League division series against Arizona, the Dodgers will have a chance to breach stadium policy as they try to finish off a first-round sweep. Four years ago, when the Dodgers clinched the NL West title in the ballpark, the players celebrated by splashing about in the pool, a decision that drew the ire of the Diamondbacks.

As the Dodgers came to town Sunday evening, manager Dave Roberts issued a proclamation about the possibility of a reprise.

"That won't happen," Roberts said. "This is a completely different team. I think we have bigger goals than to jump into a swimming pool. Our guys clearly understand what this is about. We have no interest in jumping into a pool in right field."

For weeks leading up to the playoffs, the Dodgers fixated on the concept of winning 11 postseason games, the necessary number to secure the organization's first World Series championship since 1988. The first two victories did not come easy, as Arizona hit six home runs at Dodger Stadium, but the Dodgers responded by bullying the Diamondbacks pitching staff for 17 runs in 18 innings.

The performance heartened Roberts and his superiors, who had watched the Dodgers stumble through late August and early September. The first two games of this series felt like a rerun from the summer, when the team ran away with its fifth consecutive division title and created enough cushion to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Dave Roberts talks attitude and Yu Darvish before game 3 of the NLDS.

"We're doing what we were doing when we were doing really well, being the best team in baseball," outfielder Enrique Hernandez said. "We're starting rallies, not relying on the long ball."

They intend to deploy a similar strategy Monday against former teammate Zack Greinke. The performance of Greinke in the NL wild-card game last week may have tipped the scales of this series toward the Dodgers.

Because Greinke could not finish the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies, the Diamondbacks used Robbie Ray as a reliever. Ray threw 34 pitches and became unavailable for Game 1 against the Dodgers, who battered starter Taijuan Walker. Walker lasted only one inning and "may have had an out-of-body experience," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

A day later, Ray lacked much command and fell victim to the Dodgers' patience. Ray pitched into the fifth inning, but gave up four runs and was credited with the loss. Greinke can atone Monday, but even then, the Dodgers hold a sizable advantage.

"The pressure's on them," closer Kenley Jansen said. "We've just got to keep putting that pressure on them."

Yu Darvish can close out the series. Darvish had a 2.44 earned-run average on the road this season. If the Diamondbacks win, Alex Wood is scheduled to face Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin in Game 4. The Dodgers remain committed to saving Clayton Kershaw for a potential Game 5, when he would face Ray.

The Dodgers worked out at Dodger Stadium on Sunday before hopping a late-afternoon flight to Phoenix. There was little reason to get reacquainted with Chase Field, where the Dodgers played nine times this season. That experience offers some insight into why Arizona can be so dynamic at home.

The Diamondbacks ranked second in the major leagues with an .842 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Only Colorado, who plays in the thin air of Denver's Coors Field, posted better numbers at home. If the Dodgers can counteract that in the next two games, they will draw closer to their goal of 11 victories — and put the concept of a pool party in the rearview mirror.

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Roberts acknowledged the task would not be easy, not in Chase Field.

"They swarm you," Roberts said. "When momentum starts going their way, they get really aggressive. They're tough. They can do a lot of things. It's very clear why they play well at home.

"Tomorrow night, it's going to be loud. It's going to be exciting. They're fighting for their lives."

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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