Chicago (12-10) has won seven of its past eight games to climb a season-high two games above .500. The Cubs cruised to a 7-2 win over the Dodgers in Tuesday's series opener and held on for a 7-6 win on Wednesday night.
The mood is not quite as light for Los Angeles (15-11), which has lost three of its past four.
The Dodgers will turn to right-hander Ross Stripling (1-1, 3.07 ERA) for his sixth start. He is 0-1 with a 2.12 ERA in five appearances (two starts) against the Cubs during his career. It could be his final start before a move to the bullpen with Rich Hill (knee) close to returning to reclaim his rotation spot.
For Chicago, the news will get even better as left-hander Jon Lester returns from the 10-day injured list.
Lester (1-0, 2.57 ERA) has been out since April 8, when he hurt his hamstring while running the bases. The injury interrupted a great start to the season for the 35-year-old veteran, who made back-to-back quality starts in his first two outings before exiting with the injury in his third outing.
In nine career starts against the Dodgers, Lester is 4-3 with a 3.35 ERA. He won both of his matchups last season, limiting Los Angeles to two runs in 12 innings for a 1.50 ERA.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon plans to keep Lester on a pitch count in his first game back. Lester threw 45 pitches during a simulated game Saturday and figures to build upon that number against the Dodgers, barring any surprises.
"Realistically, I'd say 75 (pitches) -- almost like what we had set up for (spot starter Tyler) Chatwood the other day," Maddon told reporters. "How he gets to that number -- is it stressful? Is it not stressful? Does he have to leave the mound a lot on different plays? When he hits a double, how hard does he run to second base? Those kinds of things.
"We'll just monitor all of that. I'm saying 75-80 (pitches) sounds like the right kind of number."
Lester will have to be mindful of Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger, who is off to an unbelievable start to the season. Bellinger is hitting .424 with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs in 25 games after collecting a single and a two-run homer Wednesday.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is teammate Chris Taylor, who is hitting .172 with one homer and six RBIs.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he would continue to give Taylor at-bats to work through his slump.
"Chris has done it for us for two years at this level," Roberts told reporters. "For me, he's going to get more leash because I believe in the person."
For the Cubs, Jason Heyward will look to stay hot at the plate. He has five homers in 20 games this season after hitting eight homers in 127 games a year ago.
Heyward shrugged off a question about his successful start after Wednesday's game.
"There's a lot of work to be done," Heyward told reporters. "Myself, personally, (my goal is) just be ready to do whatever I can on a daily basis, whether that's coming through on the field, off the field, whatever it is."
--Field Level Media