Dodgers hope to inch closer to NL West crown versus Giants

In what could be considered a passing of the torch, the Los Angeles Dodgers will try to move closer to an NL West title when they open a four-game series versus the San Francisco Giants Thursday night.

The defending World Series champion Giants have won two of the last three NL West titles, but now find themselves last in the division. The Dodgers' magic number to clinch its first NL West title since 2009 is six.

Los Angeles has stumbled a bit of late with five losses in its last seven games and failed to complete a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks with Wednesday's 4-1 loss at Dodger Stadium. Yasiel Puig had two hits, including his 16th home run, and Hanley Ramirez went 2-for-4 in defeat.

L.A. rookie hurler Hyun-Jin Ryu was dealt the loss for allowed three runs and 10 hits in six innings. He is now 13-6 on the season.

"Ryu hung in there and gave us a chance to win," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

The Dodgers had their six-game home winning streak snapped, but are still a dominant 18-2-4 in the last 24 series.

Zack Greinke gets the nod for the Dodgers Thursday and is 6-0 with a 1.59 earned run average in his last eight starts. The Dodgers had won his last seven starts, but the right-hander did not record a decision in Saturday's 4-3 setback at Cincinnati. He gave up two runs over six innings in that one.

Greinke is 14-3 with a 2.79 ERA in 24 starts this season and faced the Giants for the first in his career last May 4 in a 6-4 win as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. Greinke allowed four runs, three of which were earned, and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings for the no-decision.

The Giants enter this series on a bit of a roll, having won four of six games, and will begin a 10-game road trip Thursday against the Dodgers, Mets and Yankees.

San Francisco took a three-game series from the Colorado Rockies with Wednesday's 4-3 victory behind RBI singles from Marco Scutaro and Brandon Belt in the bottom of the eighth inning. Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval had an RBI apiece, while Guillermo Moscoso picked up the win with two scoreless innings of relief for the Giants, who erased a 3-1 deficit.

Santiago Casilla hurled the ninth for his second save and starting pitcher Yusmeiro Petit was making his first appearance since he almost pulled off a perfect game. Petit was banged around for three runs and six hits over 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.

"He was good again. Got off to a good start, hit his spots," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Petit. "They had some pretty good hitting over there. They found some holes but it wasn't like he was hit hard."

Bochy will hand the ball to Matt Cain in the opener against the Dodgers and the right-hander has lost three of his last four decisions. Cain suffered a hard-luck defeat in Saturday's 2-1 loss to Arizona, as he permitted both runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Cain is 8-9 in 27 starts to go along with a 4.37 earned run average and has faced the Dodgers three times this season, going 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA. Through 26 career starts against Los Angeles, Cain is 5-9 with a 3.58 ERA.

The Giants and Dodgers have split 12 matchups this season, but L.A. has prevailed in five of the past six meetings between the division foes.