A four-game series with the top two players in NL MVP voting last year will only have one full contest featuring Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun.
Kemp is back on the disabled list after re-injuring his left hamstring, a serious blow to the Los Angeles Dodgers as they try to avoid being swept by the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night.
The Dodgers center fielder returned to the lineup Tuesday in a 2-1 loss after missing two weeks with the hamstring injury that flared up May 13 against Colorado, ending his major league-leading streak of consecutive games at 399.
Kemp, runner-up to MVP Braun in 2011, walked in the first inning of Wednesday's 6-3 defeat and scored on a two-out double by Andre Ethier. But Kemp seemed to slow up after rounding third and limped into the dugout - where he broke a bat over his knee in frustration - before he was replaced by Tony Gwynn Jr.
Kemp, hitting .355 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs in 36 games, was put on the 15-day DL hours before this game.
Braun, meanwhile, is 2 for 19 this year against the Dodgers, going 2 for 8 with five walks and a homer in the first three games of this series.
Los Angeles (32-18) has lost three straight for the first time. The Brewers (22-28) have never swept a series of any length against the Dodgers, but are now 5-1 in the season series after limiting them to six runs in this set.
Carlos Gomez tied a career high with four hits Wednesday for Milwaukee, which is seeking its first four-game win streak since Sept. 2-5.
Thursday's pitching matchup features a Dodgers starter who hasn't won in his last eight outings against one for the Brewers sporting a 7.03 road ERA.
Chad Billingsley (2-3, 3.88 ERA) is 0-3 with a 5.01 ERA in eight starts since winning his first two this year. He yielded two runs over five innings and struck out eight in a 99-pitch effort in Saturday's 6-3 win over Houston.
"One thing you can say about Chad is that he always competes," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "He gives you everything he has out there and never lets anything really bother him on the mound."
The right-hander's winless run began when he gave up two runs over six innings and was not charged with a 5-4 loss at Milwaukee on April 17. He's 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in six starts against the Brewers.
Braun is 4 for 14 - all singles - against Billingsley while Rickie Weeks is 5 for 12 with two doubles.
The Brewers may want to sit Corey Hart, who is 0 for 12 against Billingsley and 5 for 26 with 10 strikeouts in the season series.
Milwaukee's Zack Greinke (5-2, 3.66) is 2-2 with a 7.03 ERA in five road starts. He was tagged for seven runs over 2 1-3 innings Saturday in an 8-5 defeat at Arizona.
The right-hander will pitch for the first time at Dodger Stadium after going 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two home starts against Los Angeles with the Brewers, striking out 15 over 14 innings.
Gwynn, who figures to be in center, is 4 for 6 with a homer against Greinke. Jerry Hairston Jr. and Adam Kennedy are each 5 for 10.