To think the Los Angeles Dodgers were 12 games under .500 less than two months ago seems outrageous.
It's the truth and the Dodgers have the best record in baseball since then at 32-7 and are a season-high 13 games above the .500 mark.
The Dodgers can thank a franchise-record 15-game road winning streak for catapulting them to the top of the NL West standings and will resume a four- game series against the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday at Busch Stadium.
In Monday's 3-2 win over the Cardinals in the series opener, a two-run fourth inning by Los Angeles proved to the difference. Andre Ethier had an RBI single and Yasiel Puig scored on an A.J. Ellis fielder's choice. Puig was back in the lineup after missing Sunday's game in Chicago with a thumb injury.
"It was a great crowd tonight, an electric atmosphere," Ellis said after the Dodgers' fifth straight win overall. "I think we kind of thrive on that us against the stadium type of mentality. We really come together as a ball club and it brings out the best in ourselves."
Zack Greinke had an extra days' rest for the Dodgers and earned the win by allowing two runs over 6 1/3 innings.
"They hit some balls hard. If the wind's not blowing in, they may be home runs in a different game," Greinke said. "Just how things are going, playing good and getting some breaks."
Hanley Ramirez was not in the lineup due to an injured right shoulder suffered on Sunday against the Cubs and is day to day.
Los Angeles leads the NL West by six games ahead of Arizona and is 15-2 since the All-Star break. The club is also unbeaten in its previous 13 series, going 9-0-4. The National League record for consecutive road wins in a season is 17, set by the 1916 New York Giants.
Cincinnati won 15 road games in a row from April 22-May 27, 1957.
It will be Clayton Kershaw's turn in the Dodgers rotation Tuesday and he is 5-1 with a 1.47 earned run average over his past seven starts. The Dodgers are 5-2 in that time, but failed to get Kershaw a win in Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the New York Yankees.
Kershaw held the Yanks to five hits in eight scoreless innings, struck out five and did not allow a walk for a third straight start. In fact, Kershaw has issued just two walks through his previous six appearances.
The left-hander, who has won three straight outings on the road and is July's NL Pitcher of the Month, is 10-6 in 23 starts overall to go along with a 1.87 ERA. Kershaw lost to the Cardinals on May 26, when he gave up four runs in seven innings of a 5-3 setback, and is 4-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 career starts against them.
St. Louis opened a 10-game homestand on a poor note Monday and had won three of four games following a seven-game slide.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright was on the mound and permitted three runs and seven hits in seven innings with five K's and two walks.
"We had some opportunities offensively and tonight when I was pitching," Wainwright said. "We seem to lose a lot of those one-run games. Those things come in stretches. We'll turn that around and hopefully win some of those."
Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig had an RBI apiece for St. Louis, which is just two games behind Pittsburgh for the NL Central lead and is in control of the one of the final two wild card spots.
The Cardinals will also host the Cubs and Pirates on the homestand.
Taking the mound in his sixth start (27th appearance) for the Cardinals Tuesday will be Joe Kelly. Kelly is 2-0 in his previous nine trips to the mound and has not allowed a run in his last two starts, including Thursday's 13-0 demolition at Pittsburgh.
Kelly held the Pirates to three hits in six scoreless innings and opposing lineups have mustered just a run against the right-hander in the last three starts. Kelly is 0-3 at home this season and 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three career meetings (2 starts) against the Dodgers.
The Dodgers lost two of three versus St. Louis from May 24-26 at Chavez Ravine.