The series finale Sunday against the Boston Red Sox won't make or break the Dodgers' season. Win or lose, they will still have a considerable lead over the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.
But Chris Capuano, who will take the mound for the Dodgers, said the game is important. With the Dodgers dropping a 4-2 decision to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, they are in danger of losing a series for the first time since they dropped two of three games to the Pittsburgh Pirates in mid-June.
"We've been on a great streak," Capuano said. "We haven't lost a series in a while. So tomorrow's a big game for us. We want to win the game, win the series and keep it going."
The Dodgers are 14-0-4 over their last 18 series.
The fact they had the go-ahead run at the plate in the eighth inning illustrated how dangerous they have become.
After Hyun-Jin Ryu gave up four runs in the first inning and Red Sox starter Jon Lester blanked them over 71/3 innings, the Dodgers closed their deficit to 4-2 in the eighth inning on a two-run double by Adrian Gonzalez. Hanley Ramirez followed Gonzalez's double with a walk, but A.J. Ellis was struck out by closer Koji Uehara to end the inning.
"Even today, the game was 4-0 against Lester, we never felt the game was over at that point," Capuano said. "I think we all felt we were in a great spot to come back and tie or win the game in the end. That's a great feeling on the bench."
Ryu, who suffered consecutive defeats for the first time in his career, made no excuses for his performance.
He acknowledged he was sick, but insisted that it didn't affect him. He said he had no problems warming up.
"I was actually fine throughout the entire inning," Ryu said through an interpreter.
Ryu plunked Shane Victorino, then gave up a single to Dustin Pedroia. Another single, this one by Mike Napoli, drove in Victorino.
Jonny Gomes hit a three-run home run to left-center field that extended the Red Sox's lead to 4-0.
Before Ryu was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the the fifth inning, he didn't give up any more runs.
"He did a great job of giving us a chance to get back in the game," Ellis said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to get all the way back."
Even counting the loss, the Dodgers have won 46 of their last 57 games.
With the Dodgers' tear now more than two months long, Manager Don Mattingly said he is past the point of viewing it as a hot streak.
"Yeah, I'm past it," he said. "Because I think these guys believe that they're good. I think they're really confident and together. All those factors tell you that you have a group of guys who are together, having fun. I think they've showed us they get down to business and been consistent."
Mattingly won't discount the possibility of the team maintaining this pace.
"I've always been a believer that the only thing that holds you back is that everybody tells you you're not supposed to win at any certain clip," he said. "We pretty much every day get a decent start. You start running out our starters, they've kept us in almost every game, so you have a chance to win every day. So there's no reason you can't get that team that gets that extra run."