The San Francisco Giants are trying to continue padding their lead atop the NL West by capitalizing on a series with the sliding Los Angeles Dodgers.
Giving the ball to Matt Cain may be just what they need as he looks to continue his success in the rivalry Saturday.
San Francisco (78-60) leads the division by 5 1/2 games over second-place Los Angeles (73-66), which is tied with Pittsburgh 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the NL's second wild-card spot.
"Ultimately we want to win the division but sometimes it is necessary to look outside the bubble," the Dodgers' Shane Victorino said. "The goal? It's about getting there. The first is to win the division."
The Giants took a step toward a second West title in three years by opening this three-game series with a 5-2 win Friday. San Francisco has won four in a row against Los Angeles since being swept in a three-game home set from July 27-29.
Cain (13-5, 2.98 ERA) looks to keep the Giants rolling, and he's 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA in seven starts versus the Dodgers, holding them to one or no runs in each of those victories. The most recent one came Aug. 22, when the right-hander yielded one run and seven hits in seven innings.
He's entering this meeting with a 3-0 record and 2.86 ERA in five games, all of them San Francisco victories. However, he struggled in his latest outing Sunday, giving up five runs with six strikeouts in five innings while not getting a decision in a 7-5 win at Chicago.
Marco Scutaro continues to make a major impact since being acquired from Colorado. He's batting .331 in 39 games since the deal and is 9 for 20 with four RBIs in four games after getting two hits and driving in two runs Friday.
"We needed somebody to come through for us and he has done that since he came over here, and really his whole career," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Scutaro is 10 for 24 in six meetings with the Giants versus the Dodgers, and he's a career .351 hitter in 25 games against them. He's also 4 for 8 against Saturday's scheduled starter - Chris Capuano.
Angel Pagan is hitting .341 with 22 runs over the past 20 games after collecting three hits and an RBI Friday. The center fielder is 10 for 17 while scoring seven times during the Giants' four-game winning streak against Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are on the verge of their first four-game skid since July 14-17, and Capuano (11-10, 3.63) is 0-4 with a 5.32 ERA in five games - three starts - at San Francisco.
The left-hander's only win in 11 games - seven starts - against the Giants came with Milwaukee in 2005, and he's 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts and seven games since.
Capuano was battered by them in losing to Cain last month, surrendering six runs and six hits in five innings of an 8-4 home defeat. That performance is part of a four-game stretch during which he's going 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA.
That win drought continued Sunday, when he allowed three runs and four hits - two homers - in five innings before Adrian Gonzalez's two-run, walkoff double gave the Dodgers a 5-4 win over Arizona.
Adrian Gonzalez will try to rebound from his 0-for-4 performance Friday after collecting seven hits with three doubles and four RBIs over the previous four games.
The first baseman is hitting .321 with four homers versus Cain.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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