After ending an impressive streak, Zack Greinke will attempt to take over sole possession of the NL wins lead by beating Pittsburgh in Sunday's series finale in Los Angeles.
The right-hander, though, has been inconsistent in eight career matchups and will try to have one of his better showings against the Pirates while helping the Dodgers keep rolling after their most lopsided victory of the season.
Greinke allowed two earned runs or fewer in 22 consecutive starts, the longest streak in the majors since at least 1914, until Cincinnati got three off him in the Dodgers' 6-3 victory Tuesday.
Greinke, who matched a season high with 11 strikeouts, nearly kept that run going until the final batter he faced, Devin Mesoraco, hit a two-run homer.
"His consistency is pretty amazing, really," manager Don Mattingly told the Dodgers' website. "What he's able to do with a baseball has been fun to watch."
Greinke (8-1, 2.18 ERA) will try to moved ahead of St. Louis' Adam Wainwright atop the NL victory list as he faces Pittsburgh (25-30) for the first time this season. The right-hander has given up two or fewer runs in four of his eight career matchups but given up five or more in the other four.
He also had contrasting performances in last year's two meetings. He permitted five runs over five innings in a 6-3 loss in Pittsburgh on June 16, and yielded two hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-0 win at Dodger Stadium on April 5.
Greinke will try to produce another stellar home start against the Pirates while helping Los Angeles (30-27) build on its emphatic end to a season high-tying three-game skid. The Dodgers posted its highest run total of 2014 in a 12-2 rout Saturday.
Hanley Ramirez went 4 for 4 with two homers and matched a career high with five RBIs. The Dodgers had batted .196 (19 for 97) and scored six runs in their losing streak.
Ramirez, though, is 8 for 20 (.400) with eight RBIs in five games since moving to the cleanup spot after batting .200 in his prior 14 contests. Yasiel Puig extended his major league-best streak of reaching base to 32 games while being shifted from the second to third in the lineup.
Ramirez and Puig now face Edinson Volquez (2-4, 4.30), who seeks a third straight effective outing. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his last two starts after going 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA in his previous four.
Volquez gave up two runs and four hits in five innings Tuesday at the New York Mets but walked a season-high five and did not get a decision in a 4-2 loss. The Pirates finished May with a winning record (15-14) but manager Clint Hurdle would like to see better outings from Volquez and his other starters.
Saturday's loss knocked the Pirates' starters ERAs up to 4.55, one of the worst in the NL.
"The inconsistencies off the mound have been challenging, the starting pitching as a whole," Hurdle told the team's website. "That's one area we got to improve."
Volquez had a strange stat line in his only start against the Dodgers last season, a 6-1 loss June 22. He gave up five runs - two earned - and two hits over 5 2-3 innings while matching a career high with seven walks and striking out seven.
In this start, he'll try to help the Pirates improve to 4-3 on their 10-game trip.
Ramirez, batting .362 in 43 career games against Pittsburgh, is 3 for 19 lifetime against Volquez. The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen is 4 for 21 (.190) in his career against Greinke and has no RBIs or extra-base hits in his last nine games.