The Los Angeles Dodgers blew their first chance in this four-game set at AT&T Park to clinch a third straight NL West crown.
They would normally like their chances with Clayton Kershaw pitching next, but that may not be the case since he’s going up against San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in this marquee matchup.
The Giants are 3-0 when these star pitchers have squared off this year and will look to improve to 8-0 at home against the Dodgers and stave off elimination again Tuesday night.
Los Angeles’ magic number to clinch the West remained at two after losing 3-2 in 12 innings Monday. San Francisco (82-74) improved to 10-6 in the season series on pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza’s sacrifice fly.
The Dodgers (87-69) have dropped four straight and eight of 10.
”Everyone wants to get another win and we’re playing as good as we can,” Dodgers starter Zack Greinke said. "We’re playing really focused baseball and maybe that’s the key. I think it’s more just playing as good as we can and not focusing too much on that."
That sets the stage for the fourth 2015 matchup between Kershaw (15-7, 2.25 ERA) and Bumgarner. Bumgarner (18-8, 2.88) is 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA this year against Kershaw, who is 0-2 with a 3.54 ERA in those starts.
"It’s going to be a great matchup between these two guys and we’ll come out and play the same way, we’ll see what happens," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Kershaw won the last time he faced the Giants, matching a career high with 15 strikeouts in a six-hitter in a 2-1 home win Sept. 2. His 1.61 ERA against them is his second-best mark versus an NL club and his 1.26 ERA at AT&T Park is his second-best in any NL stadium.
Buster Posey is 6 for 13 against Kershaw this year after hitting .183 against the left-hander prior to it.
Kershaw is 10-1 with a 1.36 ERA in his last 14 starts, with nine wins since the All-Star break. He leads the majors with 281 strikeouts.
Bumgarner also has nine wins since the break and a career-best 228 strikeouts.
The Giants left-hander makes his third bid for a career-high 19th victory after going 0-1 with a 2.40 ERA in his last two starts. He seeks to become San Francisco’s first 19-game winner since Shawn Estes in 1997.
Bumgarner lost his most recent start versus the Dodgers, yielding two runs in seven innings in a 2-1 defeat Sept. 1.
Adrian Gonzalez, who returned Monday after missing two games because of a pinched nerve in his back, is a .150 hitter off Bumgarner. Jimmy Rollins is at .179 and Andre Ethier is at .125.
Manager Don Mattingly may give Scott Van Slyke a start since he’s 9 for 24 versus Bumgarner, including 5 for 11 this year.
Bumgarner leads all pitchers with a career-high five homers and nine RBIs. He’s 2 for 13 off Kershaw, who is 3 for 12 versus him.
The Dodgers are enduring their longest slide in San Francisco since losing a franchise-worst nine straight there June 12, 1961-April 16, 1962. The Giants have outscored them 25-8 in this run.