The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to take another step toward clinching an NL West title by continuing their recent success against the last-place San Francisco Giants.
Having Zack Greinke on the mound for the opener of a four-game series would only seem to help.
Greinke will try to earn a seventh straight win in his first matchup with the Giants this season Thursday night.
Los Angeles' magic number for securing its first division crown in four years remained at six on Wednesday after a 4-1 loss to Arizona. The Dodgers (85-60) took two of three from the second-place Diamondbacks after losing four in a row.
Los Angeles will try to get closer by winning for the sixth time in seven games against the Giants (66-80). That stretch began with a three-game home sweep June 24-26.
''They'd like nothing more than to spoil anything that we're trying to accomplish,'' A.J. Ellis said of the defending World Series champions. "We've had so many full houses here that have carried us through some of these dramatic victories we've had late in the game. If we can finish this off this weekend, we'll be fortunate.''
Greinke (14-3, 2.79 ERA) will try to get the Dodgers started toward another sweep by continuing his impressive run. Along with his lengthy win streak, the right-hander is 11-1 with a 2.13 ERA in his last 15 starts.
He gave up two runs or fewer in an eighth consecutive game Saturday in Cincinnati - allowing two in the first of his six innings - but did not get a decision for the first time in seven starts after the bullpen blew a one-run lead in a 4-3 loss in 10 innings.
"There were no pitches I'd take back," Greinke told the team's official website about the first inning. "They just had good at-bats. They didn't make many mistakes."
Greinke did not get a decision in his only start against San Francisco, a 6-4 win for Milwaukee on May 4, 2012. He allowed four runs over 5 1-3 innings in that game.
In this matchup, Greinke will pitch opposite Matt Cain (8-9, 4.37), who will try to build on his return from a bruised right forearm. The right-hander gave up two runs over 6 1-3 innings Saturday but took the loss in a 2-1 defeat to visiting Arizona.
Cain will try for a better result on the road, where he's 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last five starts.
"I just want to finish the season healthy, hopefully get some good momentum going into the offseason," Cain told the team's website.
A repeat of his latest outing against the Dodgers won't help. Cain was charged with eight runs in 2 1-3 innings in a 10-2 drubbing July 5. He was 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his previous nine matchups, including two this season.
"I'm not going to watch any part of this one," he said after that game.
Marco Scutaro, batting .346 in his last six games, will try to help Cain in this meeting. He has eight hits in his last 13 at-bats versus Greinke, including four doubles.
Angel Pagan is batting .366 since his return from a strained right hamstring Aug. 30 and is 1 for 3 lifetime against the Dodgers right-hander.
Andre Ethier has more hits off Cain than any other player, going 29 for 65 (.446).
A loss Thursday would officially end San Francisco's streak of four consecutive winning seasons.