Both teams enter the series after losing close games Sunday. The Giants lost, 4-2, to the Athletics on catcher Derek Norris' walk-off, three-run home run. The Dodgers lost, 5-3, to the Angels, dropping this year's installment of the Freeway Series four games to two.
The Dodgers and Giants have met only three times this season, with the Dodgers winning twice. The teams have 15 games left against each other. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly compared the rivalry to the Yankees-Red Sox and, with his team in first place, admitted to already watching the scoreboard.
"It's a pennant race. It's impossible not to see the scoreboards," Mattingly said. "We take care of our own business. We've got to play up to our ability. If we play our best baseball every day I like our chances. I really don't care who we're matching up against. You prepare for that lineup that night and try to put your best lineup out there."
As the Giants try to narrow the gap in the division, they will send veteran left-hander Barry Zito to face rookie right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. It will be the first time the Giants have faced Eovaldi and the second day in a row they match up against a rookie they've never faced. A's right-hander A.J. Griffin made his Major League debut Sunday and limited the Giants to two runs on three hits in six innings.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants can't be concerned about how many times they've been able to hit against an opposing starter.
"With video, our advance scouts, we're able to get all this information, but what it comes down to is that they have to throw it over the plate and you have to hit it," Bochy said. "Sometimes you put too much into not having enough on the kid."
Giants: With streak over, Belt looks to stay hot
First baseman Brandon Belt had his 11-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-3 game on Sunday. Belt's streak had been the third-longest active streak in the NL.
During the streak, Belt went 15-for-34 (.441) with four home runs. He said finding his swing was the first step to starting his hot streak.
"I think even before the whole streak started, I knew I was beginning to find it because I was making contact pretty well," Belt said. "I was still hitting balls hard; they just didn't fall as hits. Once you start hitting balls like that, though, you know that they'll start falling in. You start driving the ball more, and pretty soon you'll be hitting these home runs, hitting more doubles."
Dodgers: Bench has been able to fill in for Kemp, Ellis
In their first series this season against the Giants, the Dodgers had the services of center fielder Matt Kemp. Now, however, Kemp is on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain.
Kemp has missed 38 games this season and has been replaced in center field by Tony Gwynn and Elian Herrera. The Dodgers have also been without second baseman Mark Ellis since May 18 but have continued to play at a high level.
"We have guys who know how to play the game, guys who have played a long time and been around the game their whole lives," utility man Jerry Hairston said. "We understand how to move a guy over, make the right play."
Zito will make his 22nd career start against the Dodgers. He has made more starts against the Dodgers than any NL team and is 6-9 with a 3.99 ERA against them.