What happens when one of the best young pitchers in the game squares off against the hottest team in baseball?
That question gets answered on Tuesday night at Chavez Ravine, where Matt Harvey and the New York Mets try to snap the Los Angeles Dodgers' six-game winning streak in the middle portion of a three-game series.
Harvey has been brilliant for the Mets this season, going 9-3 in 23 starts while posting the second-best earned run average in the majors at 2.09. The 24-year-old is also coming off his first career complete game and shutout, a 5-0 win over Colorado on Wednesday.
Harvey held the Rockies to four hits and did not walk a batter while striking out six and logging 106 pitches. He became the first Mets hurler to log a shutout since Aug. 31 of last year and went nine innings in a game for the second time this season.
The righty hurled nine scoreless frames versus the Chicago White Sox on May 7, a game the Mets won in 10 innings.
"Nine innings, it's where you want to go as a starter," said Harvey following the win over the Rockies. "Whether I struck out 10 or three or one, nine innings with a bunch of zeroes is all that matters."
Harvey has allowed just three earned runs over 29 2/3 innings since the All- Star break for a 0.91 ERA and will face the Dodgers for the second time. The first encounter came in New York back on April 24 and the young hurler did not get a decision after allowing three runs over six frames with seven strikeouts.
While Harvey faces a dangerous Dodgers lineup, Los Angeles will also be countering with a capable pitcher of its own in Hyun-Jin Ryu, winner of four straight starts.
Ryu has won each of his last five decisions and has not lost since June 19. The left-hander extended his current win streak last Thursday with a 5-1 decision over the St. Louis Cardinals, giving up one unearned run on five hits over seven innings. He struck out six and did not issue a walk.
Ryu is 11-3 with a 2.99 ERA in 22 starts this year and the 26-year-old faced the Mets for the first time in his career on April 25. Like Harvey a day earlier, Ryu did not get a decision and yielded a run over seven frames with eight strikeouts.
The Dodgers continued to roll with Monday's 4-2 win, rallying for three runs in the sixth inning. Adrian Gonzalez singled to score Carl Crawford, his seventh straight game with an RBI, with Mark Ellis also scoring on the play due to an error by Juan Lagares.
Yasiel Puig then lifted a sacrifice fly and Nick Punto provided insurance with a solo homer in the seventh inning.
Ricky Nolasco gave up two runs over 6 1/3 innings to get the win, while Mets starter Jenrry Mejia took the loss after getting charged with three runs -- two earned -- over six frames.
"That was a good (win)," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "It happened quick. Their guy was pretty good tonight. He's got good stuff and he kind of had us down. They jumped Ricky early, but he hung in there and then boom, boom, boom."
Los Angeles improved to 21-3 since the All-Star break and is 38-8 over its past 46 games, the best stretch for the franchise over that span of games since 1900.
John Buck and Omar Quintanilla each had two hits and an RBI for the Mets, who had won five of six entering the contest and felt a couple of close calls went against them.
That includes the seventh inning, when New York loaded the bases with one out down a run. Lagares then worked a full count on reliever Ronald Belisario before taking an outside sinker that he was rung up on.
Lagares said afterwards that there was "no chance that pitch was a strike," and argued his case, but manager Terry Collins would not take his team off the hook.
"I'm not going to sit here and get on the umpire. We had opportunities to score runs and we didn't put the ball in play," noted Collins. "That's what it came down to."
The Dodgers won two of three in New York back in late April.