The Dodgers may have cooled off since their historic 42-8 run, but they still find themselves in control of the National League West and in the hunt for the NL's best record as they welcome the Padres to town on Friday.
Los Angeles is 6-5 since rattling off 42 wins over a 50-game stretch from June 22-Aug. 17, yet the Dodgers still have lost just one of their last 20 series. That lone series defeat came earlier this homestand at the hands of the Red Sox, but the Dodgers bounced back to claim a series victory against the Cubs on Wednesday, prior to Thursday's off-day.
The Dodgers on Friday will turn to rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu as they open the final three-game installment of their current nine-game homestand. Ryu has impressed in his first big league season, going 12-5 with a 3.08 ERA in 25 starts. He has been even more impressive at Dodger Stadium, specifically, where he is 6-2 with a 2.12 ERA in 12 starts.
The same can't be said, however, for the Dodgers' offense. Los Angeles has struggled at home offensively for much of the season, averaging just 3.4 runs per game at Dodger Stadium. Conversely, the Dodgers average 4.6 runs per game and hit an NL-best .273 on the road.
Padres starter Eric Stults will look to keep that trend going as he takes the hill in the opener, hoping to improve upon some poor road splits this season (3-8, 4.93 ERA).
"As long as our at-bats are solid, we'll put runs up," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "As long as we take our hits, pass the torch to the next guy, don't try to do too much -- that's the kind of club we are. We're not a home run club. We may hit some, but we haven't been as good [at home]. I don't think we've hit enough line drives here. I think we get away from our game. We're kind of a 12-13-hit attack that can put some runs up."
The Padres are coming off a victory over Arizona on Wednesday night in which outfielder Will Venable launched his career-high 20th home run of the season. That's the most long balls by a Padres outfielder since Mike Cameron hit 21 in 2007.
Third baseman Chase Headley is hoping to return on Friday after leaving Tuesday's game early with back stiffness and then sitting out Wednesday's finale against the D-backs.
Padres: Quentin set for surgery
Left fielder Carlos Quentin will miss the remainder of the season, as he's headed for his third knee surgery in the past 18 months. Quentin will undergo the operation on his right knee in the next couple of weeks with hopes of being healthy by Spring Training.
"A week ago, there were concerns about the overall health of the knee," Quentin said. "It seemed bleak then. Today, it feels a lot better than all of us expected. That was a good sign."
It was Quentin, of course, who charged the mound in April after being plunked by Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke. The ensuing collision landed Greinke on the disabled list with a separated right shoulder.
Dodgers: Mattingly experimenting with order
Mattingly used a rare day off for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez on Wednesday as an opportunity to try something different with the Dodgers' batting order.
Along with giving Gonzalez a breather in Wednesday's series finale, Mattingly moved Yasiel Puig into the leadoff spot and slotted outfielder Carl Crawford into the No. 2 hole. Crawford had exclusively hit leadoff in his 78 games this season prior to Wednesday.
"I would like to possibly look into that a little bit," Mattingly said. "It may work nice if I could flip flop Carl and Puig and Hanley [Ramirez] and Gonzo. It's something I've kind of been thinking about."
Crawford went 0-for-4 in the initial experiment on Wednesday, though it was cut short when Puig was removed from the game after just four innings.
• Stults was drafted by the Dodgers in the 15th round in 2002 and ultimately spent parts of four seasons with the Dodgers from 2006-09. He went 8-10 with a 4.84 ERA over 35 appearances (24 starts) during that time.
• Crawford is 5-for-7 (.714) with a home run, a triple and two RBIs lifetime against Stults.