The surging Los Angeles Dodgers managed to keep their playoff hopes alive for at least one more day, pulling out a thrilling win their last time out.
They'll need a lot more help in order to stay in the race.
There figures to be plenty of scoreboard watching Tuesday night at Chavez Ravine as Los Angeles continues a three-game set against the NL West champion San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers (85-75) extended their winning streak to a season high-tying six in dramatic fashion Monday, taking the series opener 3-2 on Elian Herrera's RBI single in the ninth inning. That victory kept Los Angeles within two games of the Cardinals for the second wild-card berth with two to go, as St. Louis beat Cincinnati earlier in the night.
The Dodgers need to win their last two games and have the Cardinals lose their last two in order to force a tie.
"I'd like to be clinched at this point," manager Don Mattingly said. "But the guys have kept fighting. We'll take care of our business and hope for help."
The start of St. Louis-Cincinnati is scheduled for about two hours before the start of this game.
"Hopefully the Reds can get out to a good lead and turn it over to their bullpen, which is very strong," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said.
Los Angeles has outscored opponents 37-9 during its winning streak and will try to stay hot against Barry Zito (14-8, 4.19 ERA), who is in the midst of his best stretch since joining San Francisco in 2007. The Giants (93-67) have won his last 10 outings as the left-hander has gone 6-0.
Zito has been especially sharp over the last few weeks, winning four consecutive starts while posting a 2.19 ERA.
"It's a cliche, but it's just (a matter of) having fun," he told the team's official website. "When you're having fun, it means you're loose and you're enjoying baseball and you're trying to create things."
While Zito was left off the Giants' postseason roster during their 2010 World Series championship run, he'll be included this time around. He could be auditioning for a chance to start during the team's division series.
"He's done a great job and had a really nice year," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's had a really nice year. He's pitched big games for us and is getting wins when we really needed them so many times."
Zito has split four outings versus the Dodgers this year, but he's 3-5 over his last 12 starts against them despite a 2.55 ERA. He can't be looking forward to facing Matt Kemp, who has hit .462 against him including 6 for 9 with three homers over the past two years.
Zito will be opposed by Chris Capuano (12-11, 3.69), who has gone 2-6 with a 5.25 ERA over his last 12 outings. The left-hander wasn't sharp Thursday but earned his first win in almost seven weeks, giving up one run, five hits and four walks over 5 1-3 innings of an 8-4 victory at San Diego.
"It wasn't the prettiest start, not getting through six innings you don't feel good about it," he told the team's official website. "But it's great to get a win. They've been hard to come by over the second half."
Capuano is 0-3 with a 4.44 ERA over four starts against the Giants since the start of last season. He's allowed two runs in three of those outings and six in the other, an 8-4 home loss Aug. 22.
The Associated Press News Service
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