The San Francisco Giants continue to lead the NL West thanks in part to their play within the division.
They’ll try to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers for the fifth straight meeting Monday night in the opener of a three-game home set.
San Francisco (55-41) is 3 1/2 games in front of Arizona for the division lead. The Giants are the only West team with a winning record within the division at 25-14.
Los Angeles (42-53), however, has been San Francisco’s toughest division opponent. The archrival Dodgers won four of the first five 2011 meetings before losing the next four.
The Giants have won seven of nine overall, including three of four in San Diego after the All-Star break. Chris Stewart(notes) drove in the go-ahead run with a suicide squeeze in the 11th inning of Sunday’s 4-3 victory.
The Giants stole six bases to tie a San Francisco record. They entered play Sunday in the bottom third in the majors with 53 steals.
“Overall, that’s not our game,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re trying to be (creative). We should be able to steal more bases and do some other things to help get some runs across.”
San Francisco has surged behind its pitching, with its starters yielding two earned runs or fewer in seven of the last eight contests.
Surprising Ryan Vogelsong(notes) (6-1, 2.17 ERA) will make his first start since the break as he tries to improve on some control issues. He’s 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his last eight starts, but has issued 13 walks over his last 18 2-3 innings spanning three outings.
Vogelsong yielded two runs but walked five over seven innings in a 5-2 loss to the Mets on July 8 in his last start.
“I walked five guys. That’s not good,” Vogelsong said. “I walked four the last time and four the last time before that. It’s something I have to stop doing.”
The right-hander’s lone career start against the Dodgers was in 2004, with Pittsburgh.
Kemp is 10 for 27 with two homers and eight walks against the Giants this year. The center fielder hit .163 with no home runs in his final 12 games before the break, but went 4 for 12 with two homers and five RBIs over the weekend at Arizona.
Shortstop Rafael Furcal(notes) is still slumping, having gone 3 for 35 since coming off the disabled list July 3. Manager Don Mattingly replaced Furcal in the starting lineup with Jamey Carroll(notes) in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.
“He’s still got bat speed,” Mattingly told the Dodgers’ official website. “He’s been hurt so much. I can’t ever get away from this guy playing with energy every time. He’s never not trying.”
Mattingly will send Chad Billingsley(notes) (8-7, 3.87) to the mound. Billingsley is 1-1 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts against San Francisco this year, and he’s 0-2 despite a 3.00 ERA in his last eight at AT&T Park.
Billingsley worked around four hits and five walks over eight innings his last time out to earn a 1-0 victory over the Padres on July 8.