Opposite dugout: Dodgers continue to ride outstanding pitching by shutting out opponents

DodgersLogo.jpgManager: Don Mattingly (5th season)

Record: 62-49

Last 10 games: 6-4

Who to watch: 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.298/.373/.529 with 22 HR, 68 RBIs), C Yasmani Grandal (.289/.391/.498 with 15 HR, 44 RBIs), CF Joc Pederson (.222 with 21 HR, 43 RBIs), 2B Howie Kendrick (.296 with 49 RBIs), RHP Zack Greinke (11-2, 71 ERA, 0.85 WHIP), LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-6 with 197 strikeouts, 2.51 ERA)

Season series vs. Nationals: 2-1

Pitching probables:

Aug. 10: LHP Gio Gonzalez vs. LHP Brett Anderson, 10:10 p.m., MASN
Aug. 11: RHP Joe Ross vs. RHP Zack Greinke, 10:10 p.m., MASN
Aug. 12: RHP Jordan Zimmermann vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw, 10:10 p.m., MASN

Inside the Dodgers:

Despite a not-so-smooth second half of the season so far for the Dodgers, they still find themselves in the same place in the standings as the last time they faced the Nationals. Los Angeles has a three-game lead over the Giants in the National League West and is currently in position for the second seed in the NL playoffs, even though the Pirates have a better record while trying to catch up to the Cardinals. In speaking of Pittsburgh, the Pirates just completed a three-game sweep of the Dodgers in L.A.'s six-game return to the East Coast against Pennsylvania teams. The Dodgers ended up going 2-4 against the Phillies and Bucs, attributing to the aforementioned not-so-smooth second half.

But they are in first place for now and that's all that matters. It did get close for a while near the end of July, as the Giants had cut their deficit to only a half a game. However, the Dodgers were able to complete a three-game sweep of the cross-town rival Angels and win two in Philly to get their lead back up to three. Never mind the fact that those are the only two series other than the one in D.C. the Dodgers have won since the All-Star break, going just 11-9 in the games since. They are still controling the West.

Still overshadowed by the pitching staff, the Dodgers offense is one of the better producers in the league. They lead the NL with 136 home runs and a .331 on-base percentage, while also ranking in the top five in runs (467), batting average (.256) and slugging percentage (.427). The Dodgers are continuing to get production from their three non-pitcher All-Stars this season.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez leads the team with 22 homers, 68 RBIs and a .298/.373/.529 slash line. Rookie center field slugger Joc Pederson has knocked 21 home runs and 43 RBIs despite just a .222 average. And catcher Yasmani Grandal has added 15 longballs with 44 runs driven in while slashing .298/.391/.498. Among those not selected to this year's All-Star Game, second baseman Howie Kendrick is also contributing by batting .296 and driving in 49 runs.

Brett Anderson is the first of two lefties the Dodgers will throw this week against the Nats. In his first year in L.A. after signing with the team as a free agent last offseason, Anderson is 6-6 with a 3.06 ERA in 21 starts. So even with the high volume of starts, he's not getting a high volume of results. But after posting a 5.29 ERA at the end of April, Anderson has worked his ERA to below 3.61 since May 8. He is 2-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 11 home starts this season, but 0-2 in his last three starts at Dodger Stadium. This will be Anderson's first appearance against the Nationals.

Zack Greinke will be the only right-handed starter for the Dodgers in this series. Greinke will bring his 11-2 record and major league-best 1.71 ERA to face rookie Joe Ross. In his three starts since he last saw the Nationals on July 19, Greinke is 2-0 with a 4.29 ERA. That earned run average is up due to him giving up six runs in his last start against the Phillies, a game in which he helped his own cause going 3-for-3 at the plate, scoring three runs and smacking his first homer of the season. Greinke was dominant the last time he faced the Nats, pitching eight innings, giving up three hits, no runs, only one walk and striking out 11 in a win. That outing was his last not giving up a run in what ended up being an historic 45 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings streak.

Clayon Kershaw finishes this series for the Dodgers and has had similar success as Greinke in his last three starts since facing the Nats. Kershaw has gone 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA since his July 18 start in D.C. He pitched eight innings while allowing only three hits, no runs, no walks and striking out 14 in another dominant outing for Dodgers pitching against the Nationals. Those eight innings were apart of Kershaw's own consecutive scoreless innings streak of 37, which ended on first-pitch homer to Gregory Polanco last Friday. But a bigger part of that streak was his complete-game shutout against the Mets in the following start after shutting out the Nats.

The Dodgers are using the same formula to win has they have all season: Rely on outstanding pitching and have a strong enough offense. Even though they were outscored 24-15 while getting swept in Pittsburgh, the Dodgers still have the ability to score runs. And their starting pitching can throw a gem on any given day. Look for them to ride the rest of the season with this formula as they essentially dare anyone to score on Greinke, Kershaw and company.

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