Hyun-jin Ryu figures to be facing the perfect opponent as he returns Sunday against the San Diego Padres.
The problem is that the Los Angeles Dodgers haven't produced much at the plate in this weekend series.
The 13-game winner will try to help Los Angeles avoid a three-game sweep as he opposes San Diego's Eric Stults, who beat his former team earlier this month.
Plenty of Dodgers fans like to make the short trip down Interstate 5 for these matchups against their closest NL West rivals. They haven't enjoyed what they have seen this weekend.
San Diego (64-70) won 3-2 in 12 innings Friday and 2-1 in 10 on Saturday. The Padres have won four straight, with the last three in extra innings - they have never played four consecutive extra-inning contests.
'This is another game that sort of builds confidence for our guys and they realize we can beat a first-place team,' manager Bud Black said.
Los Angeles (76-60) is on the brink of being swept in San Diego for the first time since Sept. 6-8, 2010. The Dodgers are 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position in a series in which leadoff hitter Dee Gordon is 0 for 11.
'I think the main thing we've seen is, we're not swinging the bats as good and it goes back to giving the other guys credit,' manager Don Mattingly said. 'They did a nice job with us and they always have."
His club's NL West lead over San Francisco has been cut to 2 1/2 games.
The Dodgers could get a boost from Ryu (13-6, 3.28 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 0.71 ERA in four career starts against the Padres.
He will be back on the mound after being out since Aug. 13 due to a right hip strain. Ryu lost that day to Atlanta, ending a stretch in which he was 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA over his previous five outings.
The left-hander can move into a tie for the major league lead with his 10th road victory. He is 9-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 road outings.
Extra rest should also benefit him since Ryu is 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA in five 2014 starts with at least six days' rest.
Stults (6-14, 4.63) presents a formidable opponent despite being one defeat shy of the most in the majors. He is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this year, yielding one run over five innings to earn a 4-1 road win Aug. 20.
The left-hander began his career with the Dodgers from 2006-09. Los Angeles is a major league-best 22-11 against southpaws.
Yasiel Puig is 6 for 11 against Stults and Hanley Ramirez is 6 for 15.
Both those hitters were in Saturday's lineup. Puig, who is in a 1-for-22 slump, did not start Friday since Mattingly said the outfielder seems frustrated.
Ramirez went 0 for 5 after he was originally out of the lineup Saturday after hurting his left leg the night before.
Alexi Amarista and Rene Rivera have four hits apiece in this series for the Padres, seeking their third five-game win streak.
The Associated Press News Service
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