It was just a little more than a month ago when the Los Angeles Dodgers were facing their largest deficit of the season in the NL West.
The Dodgers can now build their largest division lead on Sunday with a little help and a third consecutive victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Since they were a season-high 9 1/2 back of the West lead on June 21, Los Angeles (55-48) has gone a major league-best 25-6. Saturday's 4-1 victory, coupled with Arizona's 12-3 loss to San Diego, extended the Dodgers' division lead to a season high-tying 1 1/2 games.
Los Angeles, winner of six of eight over the Reds (59-46), closes out this four-game set with Chris Capuano (3-6, 5.03 ERA) on the mound.
The left-hander has been charged with five earned runs in three of his last four starts, including Tuesday's 10-9 win at Toronto. Capuano needed 90 pitches to get through 4 1-3 innings.
"It was a tough day personally," he told the Dodgers' official website.
Capuano has faced the Reds once as a Dodger, throwing six innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 win July 3, 2012.
The Reds, who had two hits Saturday, have plated one run in each of the last two contests after averaging 7.2 in the first five on their West Coast trip.
Cincinnati will try to provide a little more support for Tony Cingrani (4-1, 3.18) in his first start against the Dodgers.
The left-hander is back from the Arizona Rookie League after being added to the roster as the Reds' 26th player in Tuesday's doubleheader at San Francisco. Cingrani went 6 2-3 innings in the opener, giving up two runs in a 9-3 victory.
"I was battling myself a little bit," he told the Reds' official website after his career-high 118-pitch outing. "I couldn't get my offspeed pitches over too much, but it was enough to get through six, and then I struggled a little in the seventh."
Skip Schumaker is the only Dodger to have faced Cingrani, drawing a walk in their only matchup last season when Schumaker was with St. Louis. It's uncertain if Schumaker will get another start in left field after going 2 for 4 with a homer Saturday in place of Carl Crawford, who went to the emergency room earlier in the day with a high fever.
"I was going to play (Crawford) today, but he didn't look great when I saw him," manager Don Mattingly told the Dodgers' official website. "So we're going to shoot for (Sunday).
Crawford has hit safely in seven straight after going 3 for 4 in Friday's 2-1 victory.
Hanley Ramirez, who hit a two-run homer in that win, will try to extend his hitting streak to 10 after driving in Yasiel Puig with a double Saturday.
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce can push his team-best hitting streak to eight after hitting a solo shot Saturday.
Bruce is 3 for 10 with two homers against Capuano. All-Stars Brandon Phillips (14 for 32) and Joey Votto (5 for 16) have gone deep once off Los Angeles' starter.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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