Set to take the hill to open a four-game set against the Reds on Thursday, Dodgers starter Zack Greinke didn't stay in Toronto to watch his teammates win their sixth straight game since the All-Star break.
While the Dodgers boarded a late flight following an evening getaway game, Greinke was already back home, preparing for his 16th start of the season by getting a full night's sleep. Manager Don Mattingly likely encouraged Greinke's early departure, as whatever the 29-year-old right-hander has been doing lately certainly has been working.
Greinke, who seeks his 100th career victory Thursday, comes in with a 5-0 record and a 2.36 ERA in his last six starts, which coincides with the Dodgers' push to the top of the National League West. Greinke delivered scoreless outings in two of his last three starts, including a shutout in which he allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out nine against the Rockies in his last start before the All-Star break.
"It's a lot of fun to play behind, because you don't have a lot of time to think about anything else besides what he's trying to do to get outs," Skip Schumaker said. "Greinke is one of the smartest pitchers I've been around. He's pretty tough when he's on his game."
Last Saturday marked the only time Greinke didn't earn a win since June 16, as he took a no-decision after giving up one run on seven hits and three walks in six innings against the Nationals.
Mat Latos will start opposite Greinke on Thursday, looking for his second straight win and 10th overall. The 25-year-old right-hander went just four innings and gave up six runs July 11, but bounced back in his first start of the second half by surrendering two earned runs in five innings against the Pirates in a game that was delayed by rain for an hour and a half after the top of the first.
Latos owns a solid 2.48 ERA against the Dodgers in his career, but he's gone just 2-6 in nine starts. His most recent outing against Los Angeles came last season on Sept. 22, when he gave up six hits and held the Dodgers scoreless through eight innings.
Dodgers: Kemp hits DL, Lilly activated
The Dodgers have been without Matt Kemp since he sprained his left ankle sliding into home Sunday against the Nationals. On Wednesday, they finally made the decision to place him on the 15-day disabled list for the third time this season.
Kemp was activated from the DL hours before hurting his ankle Sunday, and Mattingly doesn't know how long his star outfielder will again be out of action.
"You know what? After listening to [medical director Stan Conte], he wasn't 100 percent sure," Mattingly said. "We're hopeful [it won't be more than 15 days], but I shouldn't talk about DL. I'm not any good at it."
Ted Lilly took Kemp's spot on the roster, and after missing time because of a flare-up of degenerative arthritis in his neck, he returns to the team as a reliever. He made five starts for the Dodgers this season, going 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA, but the injury prevents him from returning to the rotation.
Before Thursday's game, the Dodgers will likely make a move to add a position player and drop a pitcher. Outfielder Alex Castellanos is a logical choice to be called up, while Chris Withrow still has options available.
Reds: Team seeks continued improvement on road
Thursday marks the beginning of the second leg of a three-city NL West road trip for the Reds, who started the West Coast swing with a four-game series against the Giants and will finish it with three games in San Diego.
Although Cincinnati was able to take three of four from San Francisco before heading to Los Angeles, the Reds have not been as consistent as they would like away from Great American Ball Park this season. They went just 5-10 on their previous two road trips, which included dropping two of three against the last-place Brewers.
After routing the Giants in the series finale Wednesday, the Reds are 26-27 on the road this season, compared to 32-17 at home.
• Ryan Hanigan was set to return from a left wrist injury Thursday, but after taking extra swings Sunday to prepare for his comeback, the Reds catcher experienced a minor setback and won't be activated from the DL until possibly later in the series.
"He's still a little sore," Reds athletic trainer Paul Lessard said Wednesday. "His exercises are all fine, but he overdid it a few days ago and he's still sore, so I backed off yesterday and today with some of his activities."
• In the first four games of the Reds' current road trip, fellow catcher Devin Mesoraco went 8-for-15 with two homers and seven RBIs.
• At 53-47, the Dodgers enter Thursday's game at a season-high six games over .500 after enjoying their first 6-0 road trip since 2010.
• The Dodgers have the same record (26-24) on the road as at home through 100 games.
• Thursday's game is the first of seven between the Reds and Dodgers this season. In the past two years, Cincinnati has gone 4-2 at Dodger Stadium.
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.