Red-hot right-hander Chad Billingsley can keep the Los Angeles Dodgers in their new first-place perch tonight when they visit PNC Park for the second of four games with the host Pittsburgh Pirates.
Los Angeles gained a game and moved into a tie for the National League's West Division lead on Monday after downing the Pirates, 5-4. The San Francisco Giants had sole possession of the top spot in the West, but relinquished it with a 14-2 loss to Washington.
Newly-acquired Shane Victorino clubbed his first homer in a Dodgers uniform and knocked in three runs for Los Angeles.
Victorino also scored twice while Matt Kemp added an RBI and a run scored for Los Angeles, which won for the fourth time in its last five games.
"You gotta win every game at this point and that's what you go out there to do," Victorino said. "You take it one day at a time and fortunate enough for us we were able to take game one."
Aaron Harang (8-7) surrendered two runs on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts over six innings to snap a three-start winless skid. Kenley Jansen recorded his 24th save of the season with a perfect ninth.
Garrett Jones registered four hits, three RBI and a run scored for the Pirates, who have lost four of their last five games.
Jeff Karstens (4-3) was tagged with his first loss since June 25 after giving up four runs on seven hits over seven frames. He is now winless in seven career meetings with the Dodgers.
"He still has a couple things to work on but he went out there and gave it everything he had," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "I'm encouraged by the progress he's making, but there's still more to be made."
The loss dropped the Pirates five games behind the idle Cincinnati Reds in the chase for the NL Central top spot.
Billinsgley, a 28-year-old Ohio native, was 4-9 on the season after a 5-3 loss at Arizona on July 7 in which he allowed four runs in six innings.
But he's been perfect since returning from the All-Star break, winning four straight decisions to get within a game of .500, one season after going 11-11 for the Dodgers in 32 starts.
Win No. 8 came Aug. 8 against Colorado, when Billingsley allowed four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 6-4 triumph.
He's had a career's worth of success against the Pirates, winning six of seven decisions against them in 11 appearances with a 3.83 earned run average.
Pittsburgh counters with veteran righty Kevin Correia, a San Diego native seeking his fourth consecutive double-digit win season.
A soon-to-be 32-year-old as of Aug. 24, Correia won 12 and 11 games with the San Diego Padres in 2009 and 2010, then went 12-11 for the Pirates last season after signing with them as a free agent in December 2010.
He began this season at 2-6 but has since won seven straight decisions - including a 7-6 verdict over Arizona in which he allowed three earned runs in six innings on Aug. 8.
He's 5-4 in 26 career meetings with the Dodgers.
The Dodgers swept a three-game series between the teams on April in California and won last year's season series, 6-2. Pittsburgh last won the season series in 2000.