The Los Angeles Dodgers have won a season-best four in a row and opened up a three-game lead in the NL West.
The likelihood of things continuing to improve seem high with their top two pitchers scheduled to start the final two games of a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves.
Los Angeles (60-47) captured Tuesday's series opener 8-4 over the Braves to become the first NL team to reach 60 wins. It did so two games faster than a season ago when at this point in the season it had won 26 of 32.
Yasiel Puig went 4 for 5 to improve his career numbers against Atlanta, including last season's NL division series, to 20 for 38 (.526) with at least a hit in all nine contests.
Matt Kemp went 3 for 4 with two home runs to make him 9 for 15 during the winning streak. The right fielder is batting .397 over his last 17 games to boost his season average to .282. He hasn't had it higher than that since finishing 2012 at .303.
Adrian Gonzalez also collected three hits and is batting .400 in 10 games since the All-Star break.
"That's what we envision offensively," Mattingly said. "We got contributions from all over."
Atlanta (58-49) had a three-game winning streak snapped, causing it to miss out on a chance to regain first place in the NL East after Washington lost for the third time in four games.
Greinke (12-6, 2.74 ERA) had one of his better outings of the year Friday, tossing seven scoreless innings while surrendering four hits with 10 strikeouts in an 8-1 win at San Francisco.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three career regular-season starts against Atlanta. He was dominant in the latest, a 5-0 win on June 6, 2013, in which he allowed four hits while striking out seven in seven innings.
The Braves, though, pinned the loss on him in Game 2 of the NLDS on Oct. 4, scoring two runs with four hits over six innings of a 4-3 final.
Justin Upton and Jordan Schafer are each 5 for 11 against him in the regular season while B.J. Upton is 4 for 23 with 11 strikeouts.
Alex Wood starts for Atlanta after being roughed up by light-hitting San Diego in Friday's 5-2 loss. Wood (7-8, 3.44) allowed five runs - four earned - and a career-high 12 hits, but 11 were singles. Manager Fredi Gonzalez saw it as more of an anomaly than a cause for concern from his left-hander.
"I've never seen so many ground balls go through the infield," Gonzalez told MLB's official website. "I think he kept getting ground balls and they just kept getting through the infield, really. That's the bottom line.
Wood has only faced the Dodgers in a relief role, throwing 2 2-3 scoreless innings in two regular-season appearances last season. He allowed four unearned runs in 3 1-3 innings over two playoff appearances.
Puig is 2 for 2 with a double against Wood while Juan Uribe has a homer in two at-bats.
Braves right fielder Jason Heyward was out of the lineup Tuesday with soreness in his lower back but hopes to return Wednesday.
- Sports & Recreation
- Atlanta Braves
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Zack Greinke
- Don Mattingly