If not for the broken collarbone he suffered in San Diego, Zack Greinke might be seriously challenging one of his teammates for the NL Cy Young Award.
Greinke will try to extend his win streak to eight by improving to 4-0 all-time against the Padres on Sunday.
Greinke (15-3, 2.75 ERA) missed a little more than a month after the Padres' Carlos Quentin retaliated after getting hit by his pitch in Los Angeles' 3-2 win April 11. Without that missed time, the right-hander might be contending for the NL wins lead and pressing Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for the title of league's top pitcher.
Greinke has still given Los Angeles a formidable one-two punch in its rotation lately by going 7-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his last nine starts for the Dodgers (89-66). He earned a career-best nine straight wins from 2008-09 while with Kansas City and collected the AL Cy Young in the final of those seasons.
Greinke improved to 6-0 in 10 starts against NL West teams this season Tuesday by allowing two runs over six innings in a 9-3 victory in Arizona.
Seeking to match his career high for wins in a season, Greinke is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four career starts against the Padres (72-82). He gave up one run and two hits over seven innings in a 2-1 win Sept. 1, and allowed one run over eight frames in his return to San Diego on June 22.
Greinke might have to outduel Andrew Cashner (10-8, 3.21) for another victory.
The Padres right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.88 ERA in last four starts and pitched a one-hitter in a 2-0 win in Pittsburgh on Monday.
This might be his only chance to add to that streak for the rest of this season. Cashner has posted career highs with 168 innings and 25 starts, and that could lead San Diego to shut him down for the season after Sunday's game.
"He still feels good and he's not showing any signs of any workload struggles," Padres manager Bud Black told the team's website. "Physically and mentally, he's in a good spot. But we're still going to watch this next start and we'll see whether that's the end or not."
Cashner has a 1.20 ERA in his two starts against Dodgers - both this season - but has not gotten a decision in either game. He's received one run of support in each.
The Dodgers trail Atlanta by 2 1/2 games in the race for the NL's best record and will try to help themselves with a seventh win in eight matchups against San Diego. Kershaw helped blank the Padres 4-0 on Saturday.
"We want to win every game we can," catcher A.J. Ellis told the team's website. "We want to be clicking on all cylinders and ready to go for the first playoff game. I hope we use the last week to challenge ourselves to get better and strong and sharpen things up."
Juan Uribe is 4 for 7 with two doubles against Cashner this season and Carl Crawford is 3 for 6. Yasiel Puig, meanwhile, is 1 for 6 and Skip Schumaker is 1 for 9.
Nick Hundley is the only Padres' player to get more than one hit off Greinke this year, going 2 for 5 with a double. Will Venable is 0 for 8 with five strikeouts.