One day after his club eliminated the rival Los Angeles Dodgers from playoff contention, Ryan Vogelsong gets the call for the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday evening in the finale of a three-game series that closes the regular season for both clubs.
But only the Giants will play past Wednesday as the NL West champions look to return to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
The Dodgers were challengers for a playoff spot for most of the season and attempted to spark a struggling club by acquiring Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez in trades during the season. A season high-tying six-game win streak kept Los Angeles in contention for the NL's second wild card spot, but it needed to win its final two games and have the St. Louis Cardinals lost their last two to force a one-game playoff.
The Cardinals did in fact lose on Tuesday night to the Cincinnati Reds, but the Dodgers couldn't get it done on their end and lost 4-3 to the Giants.
"Everyone is disappointed. We thought we'd win this game," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Buster Posey and Joaquin Arias each hit a home run and Barry Zito allowed two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out six over six-plus innings for the Giants.
Sergio Romo stranded the game-tying run on second base in the ninth to record his 14th save of the season and give San Francisco its fifth win in seven games.
"We played this like a playoff game. It was very good for us. I'll play the starters again (Wednesday) to keep them sharp, but I don't know how long I'll play them," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Chris Capuano surrendered two runs on five hits in a three-plus innings for Los Angeles, while A.J. Ellis hit a two-run homer.
Getting the call for Bochy's club will be Vogelsong, who is rounding into form ahead of the playoffs.
Following a three-start span in which he allowed 16 runs over just 11 2/3 innings, Vogelsong has yielded only two runs in 12 innings of back-to-back wins over the San Diego Padres.
The righty is coming off a road win on Friday as he held the Padres to an unearned run on five hits and a walk in six innings, improving to 14-9 with a 3.46 earned run average in 30 starts this year.
"At this point I'm just trying to stay on a good roll here going into the postseason," said Vogelsong.
The 35-year-old is 2-1 with a stellar 0.89 ERA in three meetings with the Dodgers this season, allowing two earned runs in 20 1/3 innings. His lone loss was a 4-0 decision on July 29 in which he gave up two runs -- one earned -- in six innings.
Though this game is meaningless for the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw still appears in line to start tonight despite a left hip injury that has plagued him down the stretch.
The left-hander showed no signs of that ailment last time out on Friday versus the Colorado Rockies, picking up his first win since Aug. 25 by hurling eight scoreless innings and scattering five hits and two walks while striking out 10.
"I feel good," said Kershaw. "I was able to command the ball better tonight."
Kershaw, 24, is just 1-3 in four starts versus the Giants in 2012 despite a 1.74 ERA. He has given up six runs and fanned 32 in 31 innings against them.
San Francisco has won six of its last eight versus Los Angeles and leads the season series 10-7.