Zack Greinke looks to follow up an outstanding August by pitching the Los Angeles Dodgers to a sweep of the San Diego Padres on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series.
Greinke won all five of his outings last month, posting a 1.23 earned run average. He struck out 30 batters and gave up just five runs and eight walks in 36 2/3 innings.
The righty capped the month with a victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday. He took a shutout into the eighth inning, but was lifted after allowing a two-run double with two outs in the frame. He still improved to 13-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts this season.
"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."
Greinke, who is 7-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 11 home starts this season, will face the Padres for the fourth time in his career. He is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA against them, with the lone no-decision coming on April 11 in San Diego.
It was that game, the 29-year-old's second start of the year, in which Greinke suffered a broken left collarbone during a benches-clearing brawl after he hit San Diego's Carlos Quentin with a pitch.
That held Greinke out of action until May 15 and he fired eight innings of one-run ball to win a return trip to San Diego on June 22.
The Padres counter with Tyson Ross, who has been solid since getting shifted to the rotation. He has made seven straight starts, going 3-3 with a 2.53 ERA.
However, the 26-year-old has allowed eight earned runs over 12 1/3 innings of back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Arizona. He has fanned 12 in that span while allowing 13 hits and four walks.
Ross took a 6-1 loss to the Diamondbacks on Monday, leaving him 3-7 with a 3.05 ERA in 29 games (10 starts) this season.
"I thought he threw the ball well. They put the bat on the ball and some grounders found some holes. We just couldn't get any runs," Padres manager Bud Black said.
The 26-year-old Ross made one of his earlier starts this season versus the Dodgers and did not get a decision on April 17 after giving up a run over 4 2/3 innings. He is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three lifetime meetings, including the one start.
The Dodgers have won three straight and edged out the Padres for a 2-1 victory last night. San Diego held a one-run lead before Adrian Gonzalez tied the game with a run-scoring hit in the seventh and a pinch-hitting Mark Ellis brought home Skip Schumaker with a single for the go-ahead run in the eighth.
Brian Wilson tossed one scoreless inning to get the victory in relief of Chris Capuano, who struck out seven and allowed a run on eight hits over seven innings.
"Cap was great," said manager Don Mattingly. "He pitched so well and kept us in the game."
The Dodgers wrapped August with a 23-6 record, a Los Angeles record for the month, and are 10 1/2 games ahead of Arizona for first place in the NL West.
Andrew Cashner started for San Diego and surrendered just a run on 10 hits while striking out seven over seven innings.
"I just told myself it was a playoff atmosphere and to keep making my pitches," Cashner, who did not get a decision, told San Diego's website.
Ronny Cedeno plated the Padres' lone run with a solo home run in the fourth inning, but San Diego lost for the fifth time in seven games.
Rolling to a playoff berth, the Dodgers added veteran infielder Michael Young on Saturday night from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for minor league left-hander Rob Rasmussen.
Young will add a right-handed presence to Los Angeles' bench and hit .276 in 126 games with the Phillies this season. He will be eligible for the Dodgers' postseason roster.
The Dodgers have won four straight versus the Padres to grab an 8-7 edge in the season series.