The Los Angeles Dodgers' difficulty clinching the NL West has kept the San Francisco Giants' slim playoff hopes alive heading into the rivals' four-game series at AT&T Park.
Zack Greinke can snuff out the remaining drama by winning his eighth straight start against the Giants and helping the Dodgers secure a third consecutive division title Monday night.
Los Angeles (87-68) has lost seven of nine after Colorado completed a three-game home sweep of the Dodgers with Sunday's 12-5 victory. The magic number still stands at two to clinch the West after San Francisco (81-74) won the final two of a three-game series at Oakland.
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A Los Angeles win at any point this series would wrap up the division and eliminate the defending World Series champion Giants from postseason contention.
''They're a good ballclub,'' Sunday's losing pitcher Alex Wood said. ''I know the last thing on anybody's minds in the San Francisco clubhouse is losing to us and letting us clinch on their field.''
Having Greinke (18-3, 1.65 ERA) on the mound certainly increases the Dodgers' chances of doing just that. He's won seven consecutive starts against the Giants while posting a 1.90 ERA, including victories at Dodger Stadium on April 29 and Sept. 1 in the only two this year.
The right-hander, who has won his last two outings at AT&T Park with a combined 13 scoreless innings, has boosted his Cy Young candidacy with victories in his last five starts overall with a 1.53 ERA and 0.85 WHIP.
Greinke gave up two runs in seven innings of a 6-2 win over Pittsburgh in his last outing Sept. 18, then skipped his next turn in the rotation because of a tight calf.
"He came into my office the day after the start or the next day and he told me what he was feeling," manager Don Mattingly told MLB's official website. "We were just hoping it would resolve over the week, and for the most part it doesn't feel really serious, but at this point we don't want to take any chances with him."
The Dodgers have won the last four meetings, but they've dropped the six matchups in San Francisco this season and were shut out in all three games during their last trip there May 19-21.
The Giants will need to extend that home streak to 10 or they'll continue the trend of missing the playoffs in odd years between championships. They're not going down without a fight, though, having scored at least four runs in seven straight.
''I wish we were in a little better position, but the standings are what they are,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ''We'll go in and try to win a game. Whatever happens, happens.''
Jake Peavy (7-6, 3.83) looks to help the Giants stave off elimination. He has a 1.42 ERA over his last three starts after pitching six scoreless innings in the Giants' 5-4 loss to San Diego on Wednesday.
Peavy's 14 wins over the Dodgers are his second most against any club, but he's 0-1 with a 4.34 ERA in three starts against them since joining San Francisco last season. He gave up four runs - including homers to Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier - in 5 2-3 innings of the Giants' 5-4, 14-inning loss Aug. 31 in his only start against Los Angeles this season.
Three of Gonzalez's five hits in 20 at-bats against Peavy have left the park, and Mattingly is hoping he'll be back in the lineup after missing his third game in four days Sunday with a pinched nerve in his back.
"He sounded encouraged," Mattingly said. "We're hopeful for (Monday). We'll see where he's at."