Giants-Dodgers, prime time, a battle for first place -- Sunday night's series finale is poised to be a heavyweight fight, a playoff-like duel between two bitter rivals gearing up for the late-season stretch.
The Dodgers enter the contest with a half-game game lead in the National League West after taking the first two games of the series with authority. Manager Don Mattingly tinkered with his starting rotation coming out of the All-Star break specifically for the series, starting Zack Greinke on Friday and Clayton Kershaw on Sunday. Both delivered with aplomb, and third starter Hyun-Jin Ryu will look to hold up his end of the bargain on Sunday.
But the Giants have responded with some tinkering of their own. Their Sunday starter was a member of the Red Sox just a day ago -- Jake Peavy, traded to the Giants for two Minor League pitchers.
He's a notorious Dodgers killer.
The right-hander is 14-2 with a 2.21 ERA (lowest among active starters) in 25 starts against Los Angeles. He's limited the Dodgers' current roster to a combined .177 average with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 113 at-bats.
On Aug. 25 last season, Peavy pitched a complete-game three-hitter at Dodger Stadium, allowing just one run.
"We'll just look at him and what he's been doing," Mattingly said. "He pitched well against us last year. We'll look at that game and see how we'll try to attack him. I haven't paid that much attention to him this year. We didn't plan on facing him. In the past he's been a good pitcher and seems to pitch good against us. We'll see."
Peavy was 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts for the Red Sox and also led the American League with 20 home runs allowed. His 1.43 WHIP is the highest of his career and his 2.17 strikeout/walk ratio is the lowest since 2003.
But Giants manager Bruce Bochy knows what kind of pitcher his team is getting. He used to manage Peavy while with the Padres.
"He's as tough of a competitor as any player I've ever had," Bochy said. "These guys are going to love him and his approach to the game."
Peavy will match up with Ryu, who's 7-2 on the road with a 2.73 ERA this year and has become all the more dangerous after adopting teammate Josh Beckett's curveball and Kershaw's slider into his arsenal.
"I've learned from my teammates," said Ryu after a seven-inning, two-run outing against Pittsburgh. "I didn't feel pressure in changing. I feel these changes work for me and I throw these pitches with full confidence."
Giants: Power outage for Morse
Michael Morse quickly impressed in his first season with the Giants, as he hit .295 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in 56 games through May.
In the nearly two months since? Well, his presence hasn't been felt nearly as much, having hit just three home runs and driven in nine runs. His lone home run this month came July 5 in San Diego; he last homered at AT&T Park May 15.
Morse's early-season power surge helped catapult the Giants to the Majors' best record in early June, and its disappearance contributed heavily to the lack of offense that plagued the team during its month-long slide from grace to second place.
Dodgers: Puig could be in center longterm
Yasiel Puig started the first two games of the series in center field, and he could be there to stay.
"We had been talking about it for a while," said general manager Ned Colletti. "We sat down with Yasiel -- Donnie [Mattingly] and myself and [coaches] Lo Bundy and Davey Lopes -- and explained the differences between the corners and the middle. We talked about his concentration. How long he'll be out there, I don't know."
With Puig in center, Matt Kemp returns to his original spot in right field and Carl Crawford is in left with Andre Ethier on the bench.
"I think it's the best combination for the guys we have now," said Mattingly. "There's a little more stability in center instead of a platoon if this works out. Andre can play center, right and left. Carl's in left and Scott [Van Slyke] can play the corners or give Adrian [Gonzalez] a day at first. It's kind of the best right now."
Colletti gave no indication that he's close to, or even interested in, trading any of his veteran outfielders, only that he has and will listen to other clubs when they call.
• The Giants are 42-11 when they score the game's first run and 15-36 when they don't.
• Infield prospect Alex Guerrero is back in Triple-A Albuquerque after an altercation with former teammate Miguel Olivo in May cost him part of his ear.
"There's a good chance if not for the incident, he probably would be here," Colletti said.
Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.