While they've clinched their first NL West title in four years, the Los Angeles Dodgers still have something to play for during the final week of the regular season.
The visiting Dodgers will try to keep fighting for home-field advantage in the playoffs by winning for the fifth time in seven games Tuesday night against the rival San Francisco Giants.With six games remaining, Los Angeles (90-66) hopes to finish ahead of St. Louis for the No. 2 seed in a potential NL Division Series matchup. That could be important since the Dodgers hold the league's second-best home record at 19-8 since July 26 despite losing the final three of a four-game set with the Giants (72-84) earlier this month.Los Angeles also has an outside chance to catch NL East champion Atlanta for the league's best record.The Dodgers will attempt to close those gaps as they try for a third straight shutout behind Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-7, 3.03 ERA).Although Ryu has lost four of five starts, he's been given just seven runs of support over that span. He was outstanding in a complete-game effort in his last outing as he yielded two runs and two hits in a 2-1 loss at Arizona on Sept. 16.The left-hander's only mistake came in the first inning on Paul Goldschmidt's two-run home run."I threw 100 pitches but that one pitch was the decision-maker of the game," Ryu said. "It was an error on my part."Ryu is 1-2 with a 2.81 ERA in four starts against San Francisco, allowing three runs over 13 1/3 innings to help the Dodgers win his last two meetings.This time, he could eventually give way to former Giants closer Brian Wilson, who returns to San Francisco for the first time since signing with the Dodgers in July.Wilson spent seven seasons with the Giants and recorded the final out for the 2010 World Series champions. He threw 1 2/3 hitless innings in a pair of appearances against his old club earlier this month."I'm sure with any personality that goes to a rival, it's not going to be a warm and fuzzy reaction," Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly told MLB's official website. "I don't understand that, though. They could have signed him. They let him go."Matt Cain (8-9, 4.06) has been solid with a 2.24 ERA in his last nine starts, though the Giants have lost seven of those outings while providing him with 12 runs of support.The right-hander gave up no earned runs over 7 2/3 innings before the bullpen blew a four-run lead in Wednesday's 5-4 road loss to the New York Mets."He was great," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He pitched well. It's a shame we couldn't get a win for him."After going 3-0 with a 1.49 ERA in five home starts against the Dodgers, Cain was tagged for eight runs over 2 1/3 innings in a 10-2 loss July 5. He pitched better in his most recent meeting when he allowed one earned run over seven innings in a 3-2, 10-inning loss in Los Angeles on Sept. 12.Andre Ethier has faced Cain more than any other batter, hitting .441 in 68 at-bats. Ethier had been out since Sept. 13 with a left ankle injury before pinch-hitting in Sunday's 1-0 win in San Diego, and he could return to the starting lineup.The Dodgers, however, might be without Hanley Ramirez, who was removed after six innings due to nagging back and hamstring injuries.