For the Dodgers, the timing is just about right.
A season after beginning a historic 42-8 run in late June, Los Angeles is back at again with wins in 11 of its last 15 games dating back to June 16.
"Well, obviously, we feel good about where we're at at this moment," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before Tuesday night's 10-3 loss to the Indians evened the series at Dodger Stadium. "But you know me, and you know what I want, and it's for us to just stay level and keep playing. We know there's a long way to go. There's a lot of baseball to be played, and we just need to continue with our stride."
Their surge, combined with the Giants' recent slide, had the Dodgers alone in first place in the National League West on Tuesday for the first time since April 24. But the first-place ride was short-lived as San Francisco's 5-0 win at home over St. Louis bumped L.A. back to second.
The Dodgers have also been playing much better at home recently, winning nine of their last 12 after starting the season 13-19 at Chavez Ravine.
"Obviously, that was hurting us early because we were playing really well on the road -- I think one of the best records in baseball on the road -- but we weren't able to do anything at home," Mattingly said. "The fact that we were able to turn that around has been a good feeling, and it's been really important for us to turn what we're doing around."
Los Angeles will turn to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu on Wednesday as it tries to take the series. Ryu is 6-2 with a 3.22 ERA in his last eight outings, seven of which were quality starts.
Ryu, who has never faced the Indians, has not gone fewer than six innings since April 27. Ryu (9-4) has been much better on the road than at home, going 6-1 with a 1.62 ERA on the road and 3-3 with a 5.03 ERA at Dodger Stadium.
The Indians will answer with Trevor Bauer, who is coming off a loss in Seattle after surrendering three runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. Bauer (2-4) has a 4.39 ERA this season and only has two quality starts in his last five games.
"I don't really think I've done a good job, myself," Bauer said. "That's what's most frustrating. I feel like I can do a much better job."
After striking out 21 in three May starts, Bauer only sat down 23 batters in five outings last month.
"Yeah, he's always going to have very, very high expectations for himself," Callaway said. "Even if he pitches good, and he goes out and punches out 15, he's probably not going to feel very good about that."
Bauer, a first-round pick out of UCLA in 2011, made spot starts in 2012 for Arizona and last year for Cleveland but never found his rhythm, going 2-4 with a 5.67 ERA heading into 2014. ButBauer has settled into the Indians rotation and earned a start every fifth day.
"I think it's good that he's comfortable in that position," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "He's probably a little more comfortable mentally and, if he has a bad game, he's not thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to get sent down.' It makes things a little easier and takes a little pressure off of him."
Bauer will seek his first big league victory on the road about a 30-minute drive from where he starred at Hart High in Santa Clarita.
Indians: Santana coming off strong June
Carlos Santana is sporting a .205/.357/.390 slash line through 72 games this season, but the overall numbers are misleading. In June, Santana hit .308 with six home runs, 15 RBIs and the sixth-highest OPS (1.015) in the American League. From May 22 through the end of June, his 1.062 OPS ranked second to only the Angels' Mike Trout (1.236) in the Majors.
"For me, it was great. I had a great June," said Santana, who got a night off on Tuesday. "This is a new month and I need to keep working the same way and doing my same approach. I know the team needs me."
Dodgers: Puig slowed last month
After earning National League Player of the Month honors in May, Yasiel Puig had a rough June.
He posted a .398/.492/.731 slash line with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in May, but just .248/.330/.327 with no home runs and five RBIs in June.
"I think, obviously, there are going to be stretches of time where he's not as hot as he was at a different time," Mattingly said. "In general, I think Yasiel's best when he's in the middle of the field. I think he's best when he's showed he's patient and he gets pitches to hit."
• Wednesday's rubber game will decide the series between the Indians and Dodgers. Cleveland in 11-11-4 in series this season while Los Angeles is 15-10-2.
• After Cleveland was shut out in back-to-back games and hit 2-for-54 (.037), the Indians finally got the bats going on Tuesday.