Don't look now, but the Dodgers -- those very same Dodgers that nearly everyone had written off earlier this month -- are charging fast in the National League West.
They've won a season-high five consecutive games and find themselves just six back of first place heading into a four-game weekend series against the Phillies, beginning Thursday.
Zack Greinke gets the ball for Los Angeles, coming off his best start of the season. He struck out eight in eight innings against the Padres on Saturday and allowed just one run.
That outing continued an impressive stretch for Greinke, who has now lasted at least seven innings in three of his past four starts. At home this season, he is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA.
"When he's spot-on with command, Zack is a fun pitcher to watch," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Location is such a big thing with him, and it was clear he was locked in."
Opposite Greinke will be Phillies right-hander Jonathan Pettibone, who exited his start Saturday in the seventh inning with back tightness. A smooth bullpen session in San Diego on Monday was all the proof the Phillies needed to send him back out there Thursday night.
Pettibone (3-3, 4.14 ERA), who had tossed six innings of one-run ball, called his removal "precautionary" and said his lower back began to lock up while he was hitting.
Pettibone will have to contend with a red-hot Hanley Ramirez, who is riding a nine-game hitting streak, during which he's hitting .485 with four homers. The veteran shortstop has driven in a run in six consecutive contests, the longest streak by a Dodgers hitter this season.
Phillies: Howard staying patient
In the Phillies' final two games in San Diego, Ryan Howard was held hitless over 10 at-bats. Still, the slugging first baseman has pieced together a solid June, batting .313 (25-for-80), and manager Charlie Manuel commended his plate approach.
"He's being more patient," Manuel said. "He's been trying to put the fat part of the bat on the ball."
Dodgers: Cautious with Kemp
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp made his return from an injured hamstring Tuesday, but he was out of the lineup Wednesday as a precautionary measure.
"We're going to keep an eye on him and see how he's doing body-wise," Mattingly said. "We're just trying to get him over the hump, not play him too many games in a row."
Kemp came on as a defensive substitution in the ninth inning.
• This weekend's four-game set marks the Phillies' first and only visit to Dodger Stadium in 2013. The Dodgers haven't won a series against Philadelphia in Los Angeles since they took two of three in August 2007.
• Phillies center fielder Ben Revere has notched four hits in 10 career at-bats against Greinke.
• Domonic Brown became the first Phillies player to reach the 20-homer mark before the end of June since Howard and Raul Ibanez did so in 2009.