Giants-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

A dramatic finish has the San Francisco Giants gaining momentum, while the Los Angeles Dodgers are struggling after being victimized by one.

Potentially having Matt Kemp back in the lineup should give the Dodgers a lift.

Kemp will try to return from a hamstring injury as Los Angeles and San Francisco meet for the first time in 2012 in the opener of this three-game set at Chavez Ravine on Monday night.

The Giants (14-14) have won back-to-back games after Hector Sanchez's walkoff single secured a 4-3, 11-inning win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

The Dodgers fell for the fourth time in six games Sunday when Jamey Wright walked in the deciding run in the 11th of a 4-3 loss at Chicago.

Kemp was a late scratch Sunday due to tightness in his left hamstring, but he flied out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.

"I don't want to be stupid," said Kemp, who is among the league leaders with a .392 average, 12 homers and 27 RBIs. "Maybe it just needs to be rested one day and I could go out and do something stupid and could end up being two weeks. I just want to take my time and see how it feels (Monday). Hopefully I can play (Monday)."

That could mean an end to Kemp's streak of 392 consecutive games played, the longest active run in the majors.

"The streak does mean something to me, to play every day," he told the team's official website. "It feels weird watching the team play."

Kemp is hitting .452 with six homers and 10 RBIs while helping the Dodgers go 10-2 at home.

He had a .469 average with four homers and nine RBIs in nine meetings with the Giants at Dodger Stadium last year, and is batting .426 with two homers versus Barry Zito, Monday's scheduled starter.

If Kemp isn't able to play, Tony Gwynn would be his likely replacement in center field. He was 0 for 3 with a walk Sunday, and is hitting .240 with two RBIs on the season.

Ted Lilly (3-0, 1.38 ERA) is expected to get the ball in an effort to continue his best start since entering the majors with the Montreal Expos in 1999.

The left-hander hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his four starts after opening 2012 on the disabled list with recurring neck stiffness.

Only a stiff lat muscle could stop him Tuesday, as he yielded two runs and four hits in six innings of a 7-6 loss at Colorado. He exited after throwing just 79 pitches as a precaution.

Lilly is 0-3 with a 6.86 ERA in four starts against the Giants since joining the Dodgers via trade from the Cubs during 2010.

San Francisco is on the brink of their third season-high three-game winning streak, thanks in part to a 1.80 ERA from the staff over the last two games. However, its pitchers compiled a 3.67 ERA at Dodger Stadium last year, and Zito (1-0, 1.76) wasn't much help while surrendering five runs in seven innings over two appearances - one start.

The left-hander is 0-3 with a 3.05 ERA in eight games - seven starts - against the Dodgers since last beating them May 8, 2009.

Zito's most recent outing may not inspire much confidence in that losing streak ending. He lasted just 3 2-3 innings after allowing two runs while matching his career high with seven walks in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to Miami.

Angel Pagan has put together a career-high 20-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .315 with four homers, seven RBIs and 11 runs. The center fielder went 7 for 20 in four games at Los Angeles in 2011, and is 5 for 10 with two doubles off Lilly.

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