Giants, Dodgers ready for big NL West series

- Matt Cain tries to continue his recent mastery of the Los Angeles Dodgers when the San Francisco Giants play the first of three games against their National League West rivals Friday at AT&T Park.

Cain is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last five starts against the Dodgers, with San Francisco winning all of them. However, he is only 3-8 lifetime against Los Angeles with a 3.56 REA in 19 starts.

The 27-year-old right-hander is in the midst of his best season as a pro, as he is 10-3 with a 2.74 ERA. He wasn't sharp his last time out, though, as the Phillies reached him for five runs and five hits - including three home runs - in eight innings Saturday in Philadelphia. Cain hit a home run of his own in the contest, but did not factor in the decision of his team's 6-5 win.

Cain will be trying to help the Giants beat the Dodgers for the fourth straight time tonight. San Francisco is 4-2 this season against Los Angeles and heads into the contest with a three-game lead on the Dodgers in the NL West.

"It seems like we're doing a lot of things right now," Cain said. "A lot of the guys are finding ways to pick each other up. I don't know if it's our best baseball, but I know that we're playing really well and we have to keep that going. We have to keep doing what we're doing and get the job done."

San Francisco was denied a series sweep against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, as Tim Lincecum's struggles continued in a 6-3 loss. Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera each drove in a run for the Giants, who lost for only the third time in 10 games overall and had their six-game home winning streak stopped.

Lincecum (4-11) was handed the loss for giving up five runs on seven hits along with three walks and eight strikeouts over just 4 2/3 innings.

"I go to the chalkboard after every start and try to figure out what's going on," Lincecum said. "I have to figure out how to make something better or a change. It's a game of chess. You've got to keep adapting, making different changes just to come out on top. That's where I'm at."

Los Angeles, meanwhile, enters tonight's series opener on the heels of losing three straight times to the St. Louis Cardinals after Thursday's 7-4 setback at Busch Stadium.

Chris Capuano (10-6) allowed a season-high six runs on 11 hits and a walk for the Dodgers, who have dropped the last three on the heels of a five-game winning streak.

"He was pretty good the first three (innings)," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Capuano's outing. "(The Cardinals are) the world champions over there and have a pretty good-hitting ball club."

Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp, who went 1-for-4, finished the set 2-for-16, while the newly acquired Hanley Ramirez had a hit and run scored for Los Angeles.

Mattingly has yet to name a starter for tonight's contest, but could be leaning towards giving Triple-A righty Stephen Fife the ball. Fife pitched well in his big league debut back on July 17 against Philadelphia, as he allowed a run and four hits in six innings.

However, he can't be recalled unless there is an injury, since he was sent to the minors less than 10 days ago.

Nathan Eovaldi was slated to go for the Dodgers, but he was shipped to Miami on Wednesday as part of the Ramirez deal.