If Zack Greinke can improve upon two previous starts at Wrigley Field, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a chance to rebound from a rough series on their final trip of the season.
Greinke can end his road struggles against the Chicago Cubs by winning a third straight start while helping the Dodgers avoid matching a season high with their third consecutive defeat Thursday night.
Los Angeles (86-66) began its trip by taking two of three in San Francisco, but after Monday’s 11-3 win in Colorado was outscored 26-6 in the final two games of that set.
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The Dodgers lead the Giants by two games in the NL West after a 16-2 loss Wednesday.
Greinke (15-8, 2.64 ERA) would appear to give them a good opportunity to get back on track after going 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA over his last five starts. The right-hander gave up four hits in six innings of a 17-0 rout of San Francisco on Saturday.
"Zack slammed the door," manager Don Mattingly told MLB’s official website.
Though Greinke has allowed three runs, 14 hits and struck out 37 over 30 innings while going 4-0 against the Cubs (68-84) while pitching at home for the Dodgers and Milwaukee, he’s given up 16 runs and 17 hits in nine innings to go 0-2 at Wrigley.
During his most recent visit in 2012, Greinke gave up eight of those runs in 3 2-3 innings of an 8-0 loss while with the Brewers.
Greinke did not face Chicago when it took two of three at Dodger Stadium last month. Los Angeles, however, swept a four-game set on the North Side last season.
Yasiel Puig went 6 for 10 with a home run at Wrigley in 2013, and is 15 for 29 in nine career games versus Chicago. He went 0 for 3 on Wednesday after batting .409 in the first five games of the trip following his 6-for-53 slump.
Puig didn’t face Cubs rookie Tsuyoshi Wada (4-3, 3.34) when he allowed only a two-run homer to Matt Kemp in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-2, 12-inning loss Aug. 2.
The left-hander went 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in his first eight starts but is 0-2 with a 5.93 mark in the last three. He gave up four runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 7-3 loss at Pittsburgh on Friday.
Hanley Ramirez went 2 for 2 with a double off Wada and hit a winning three-run homer in that contest last month.
Mattingly hopes Ramirez will return at some point in this series after not starting Tuesday and sitting Wednesday with an elbow strain. Ramirez was batting .444 in 10 games prior to Tuesday’s contest.
"(He’s) better than he was (Tuesday)," Mattingly said. "So I’m hoping another day will get him (where he needs to be)."
Though no longer an everyday player, Darwin Barney could face his former team for the first time since the Dodgers acquired him from Chicago on July 28. A Gold Glove winner with the Cubs in 2012, the light-hitting infielder went 2 for 3 with his first homer in 59 games Wednesday.
Former teammate Luis Valbuena is 7 for 18 with three doubles against Greinke.
Valbuena had two hits with an RBI on Wednesday as Chicago won 3-1 to complete a three-game sweep of Cincinnati that followed a stretch of eight losses in nine contests.