With the National League West race running neck-and-neck, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had to plan for his team's weekend series against the Giants, which starts on Friday, accordingly.
With the All-Star break just a week in the past, Mattingly had the opportunity to set his rotation so his top three starting pitchers would go against the division leaders.
"I think it's important. I don't want to downplay it," Mattingly said. "We're set to take on the team we bump heads with and it's nice to have the best guys, but it's not like you win this series and you've got it. Nobody will think it's over. We try to win every series. We want to win the division. Everybody knows you don't want to be the Wild Card. It's Russian Roulette. It's a game where, if everything goes wrong, the season's over."
Zack Greinke (11-6) and his 2.90 ERA will go in the first game, followed by Clayton Kershaw on Saturday and Hyun-Jin Ryu in the series finale on Sunday. Tim Lincecum will get the ball in Game 1 for San Francisco just three days after his last action.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy took a far different approach by letting his top two starters -- Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson -- start the first two games after the All-Star break. As a result, neither will pitch this weekend.
Instead, the back end of the rotation will face the Dodgers, with Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit scheduled to start against Kershaw and Ryu, respectively.
Bochy's decision reflects his philosophy that no game or series is bigger than another.
"I don't know what's not a big game," Bochy said.
During the Giants' 14-inning win against the Phillies on Tuesday, Lincecum (9-6) notched the first save of his career with two-thirds of an inning in which he walked one and allowed no hits.
"I was trying to do my best to control my emotions," Lincecum said.
With their 2-1 loss to the Phillies on Thursday, the Giants will enter the series 1 1/2 games up on their NL West rivals.
Dodgers: Puig could start in series opener
Yasiel Puig took extra batting practice on Wednesday and could make his return to the starting lineup on Friday.
The outfielder has missed four starts since being hit by a Joe Kelly pitch against the Cardinals on Saturday. Puig made an appearance in Wednesday's 6-1 loss to the Pirates as a pinch-hitter. In his only at-bat, he drew a walk.
Hanley Ramirez's return is less likely. The shortstop still has a chance of returning, but he didn't take batting practice on Wednesday.
There are no plans for either player to be placed on the disabled list.
Giants: Belt expected to travel with club
Bochy said on Thursday that despite still feeling the effects of the concussion he sustained last Saturday, first baseman Brandon Belt was expected to be able to return to San Francisco on the team's chartered flight.
• The Dodgers are just 3-7 against the Giants this season -- their worst record against any NL team this year.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.