After landing a body blow with one ace in Monday night's opener, the Los Angeles Dodgers go for the knockout with Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the second contest of a three-game series versus the Chicago Cubs.
After dropping two of three over the weekend to the Boston Red Sox for their first series loss since June 14-16 (14-0-4), the Dodgers sent Zack Greinke to the mound to face the Cubs and he was again excellent in a 6-2 win.
Greinke capped his brilliant August by giving up five hits and two walks while striking out nine. He was one out away from his second shutout of the season before giving up a two-run double to Brian Bogusevic and Brian Wilson finished out the game by recording the final out.
Still, Greinke moved to 13-3 on the season and won all five of his starts in August with a 1.23 earned run average. He also singled home Los Angeles' first run on Monday and is hitting .340 on the year.
"It was a fun night. My location was really good and the defense was good," Greinke said. "I don't know how much better I could have done. It was frustrating not to get that final out. I just couldn't finish it."
Carl Crawford drove in two runs, while both Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig homered for the Dodgers, who are 20-5 in August and own a 9 1/2-game lead for first place in the NL West.
Los Angeles also has won eight in a row over Chicago dating back to last season, tying the club's longest win streak versus the Cubs in Los Angeles history, which was set from June 9, 1974-May 19, 1975.
Jake Arrieta surrendered four runs on six hits and five walks over five-plus innings to suffer his first loss since joining the Cubs, who have lost six of their last seven games.
"(Greinke) is on a pretty good stretch. He's got all the pitches to do it, and he did it tonight," Cubs manager Dale Sveum.
Things don't get easier for Sveum's club on Tuesday as they go up against the Major League leader in ERA, Kershaw.
The lefty is 13-7 with a 1.72 ERA in 27 starts and also ranks second in the NL with 188 strikeouts. He is emerging as the favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award for the second time in three years and he also finished second in voting last year to R.A. Dickey.
Kershaw has won three straight starts, including consecutive eight-inning scoreless outings. That latest came on Thursday in Miami, where he scattered five hits and three walks while striking out six but still had harsh words for himself afterwards.
"I was terrible the first few innings. I didn't have much command of my pitches," Kershaw said. "Things could have gone a lot differently. It could have gotten out of hand pretty quick."
The 25-year-old is 7-4 with a 1.56 ERA in 14 starts at home this year and 3-1 lifetime versus the Cubs with a 1.61 ERA in four meetings.
Travis Wood draws the task of countering Kershaw and his All-Star season has taken a bit of a dive in August, where he is 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA.
Wood did not factor into a 5-4 loss versus Washington on Thursday, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings of work. He stands 7-10 with a 3.22 ERA in 26 starts this season.
The 26-year-old lefty began his month with a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers as he yielded five runs on seven hits and five walks over just 3 1/3 innings. He is 1-2 lifetime in this matchup with a 7.65 ERA in four starts.