Cubs-Dodgers Preview


The Los Angeles Dodgers believe they have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, and it's difficult to argue with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw forming an imposing combo at the top of the rotation.

Greinke gets the nod Monday night as he looks to stay hot against the visiting Chicago Cubs, who hope to avoid losing an eighth consecutive meeting.

The Dodgers' 3.14 rotation ERA is the best in baseball, as Greinke (12-3, 2.91 ERA) and Kershaw (major league-best 1.72 ERA) have continued to shine.

Greinke has been stellar during his four-start winning streak, posting a 0.96 ERA. He gave up one run and struck out seven in eight innings of Wednesday's 4-1 win over Miami.

"I've been executing better and I've been throwing harder with a better changeup than at any time in my career," Greinke said.

The right-hander has helped Dodgers starters post a 2.13 ERA over the last eight contests.

"It's by far the deepest starting staff," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told the team's official website after Greinke's last start. "At the top end, we've never had (this good of a) one-two combo."

Greinke has yet to face the Cubs as a member of the Dodgers, but he gave up two hits and struck out 12 in seven innings of an 8-0 win while pitching for Milwaukee on June 6, 2012.

Kershaw will start Tuesday, and Chicago manager Dale Sveum realizes the challenges his club is facing in this three-game series.

"They're on a roll that baseball hasn't seen in many, many years," Sveum said. "When you have Greinke, Kershaw going two out of five days, you're talking about two guys who can win Cy Youngs in any given year or throw a no-hitter on any given day.

"That's not something you want to think about until you arrive at Dodger Stadium."

Los Angeles (76-54) leads the NL West by 9 1/2 games over Arizona and has won seven straight against the Cubs - including a four-game sweep at Wrigley Field from Aug. 1-4 - but it is coming off an 8-1 loss to Boston on Sunday.

Adrian Gonzalez homered for the Dodgers, who lost the final two of the three-game set to drop their first series since June 14-16 in Pittsburgh.

"You never want to lose two games in a row,'' outfielder Carl Crawford said. "We've just got to get back to doing what we do, put these two games behind us real quick and get back to our winning ways.''

Chicago (55-75) has lost five of six after falling 3-2 in 15 innings at San Diego on Sunday. The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the 13th before allowing the tying runs to score and giving up an RBI single two innings later.

They'll look to end their skid versus the Dodgers with help from Jake Arrieta, who is hoping to rebound from his first tough outing since arriving in Chicago.

Arrieta (1-0, 3.71) gave up six runs and walked four in four innings of Wednesday's 11-6 loss to Washington. He allowed one run in 13 innings over his first two outings after being acquired from Baltimore.

The right-hander faced the Dodgers while with the Orioles on April 21, giving up two hits, five walks and five runs in four innings of a 7-4 loss.

Rookie Yasiel Puig reached base in 10 of his 14 plate appearances against the Cubs earlier this month, including a homer and a double.