Owners of first place in the National League West for the first time this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers look to secure a fifth straight victory on Tuesday night in the middle contest of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Entering the season as favorites to win the division, the Dodgers lost 21 of their first 34 games and were even 9 1/2 games out of first as late as June 21. However, they are 21-5 since and Monday night's 14-5 rout of Toronto put the Dodgers a half-game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings.
Even with Matt Kemp out due to a sprained left ankle, the Dodgers set a season high for runs scored in a game and had 16 hits. Four of those came off the bat of A.J. Ellis, who had a homer and career-high five RBI.
Skip Schumaker added a three-run homer and Carl Crawford notched three hits and an RBI.
But the Dodgers are aware nothing is earned in July and that they must keep their foot on the gas.
"I know as fast as it comes is as fast as it goes," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "We'll take this game for what it is, we were able to score today. (Tuesday) is a whole new day."
It will also be another one without Kemp, who is not expected to play in this series after suffering his ankle injury on Sunday during a play at the plate. His foot was in a boot on Monday despite x-rays being negative and could return to the disabled list for a third time this season.
Sunday marked his return from the DL after missing time with a shoulder injury.
As good as things have gone for the Dodgers, they have been just as bad for the Blue Jays, who scored five runs on 13 hits and committed five errors. They have lost five in a row and are 7-17 since winning 11 straight from June 11-23.
Mark DeRosa had three hits and drove in a run, but starter Josh Johnson was tagged for five runs on seven hits over just two-plus innings of work.
"That was pitiful, the only way I can put it," said a frustrated Johnson. "I didn't even battle. Everything was right over the plate. Nothing I can do but take it. That was a pretty poor performance."
Getting the start tonight for the Dodgers will be Chris Capuano, who faces the Blue Jays for the first time in over eight years.
Capuano's only other career meeting with Toronto came on June 19, 2005 while with Milwaukee. The left-hander did not a win on that day, working around four hits and five walks while allowing one run in five innings.
Capuano closed out his first half for the Dodgers with a much-needed win over Colorado. After allowing 10 earned runs and 17 hits over eight innings of back-to-back losses, the 34-year-old limited the Rockies to six hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He also struck out eight without a walk in his longest outing since May 18, when Capuano logged 7 1/3 frames of work.
"I tried to throw down and finish the pitch. I tried to stay focused. Tonight was the best I have felt this season," said Capuano, who is 3-6 with a 4.63 earned run average in 13 games this season, including 11 starts.
Todd Redmond counters for the Blue Jays. He made his second start and fifth appearance of the season back on July 13 in Baltimore, but was given the hook after just four innings of work. Redmond yielded three runs on four hits and a walk, fanning six but also giving up a pair of homers in the no-decision.
The 28-year-old righty is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA this season and has never before faced the Dodgers.
The Dodgers and Blue Jays are meeting for the first time since splitting six encounters during the 2007 campaign. Each team took two of three on the road that year.