for this game

Dodgers start do-or-die set with Giants

Oct 1, 2012 - 2:54 PM (Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Dodgers are one victory shy of matching their longest winning streak of the year. If they hope to make the playoffs, they'll need to set a new season high and get some help.

The Dodgers begin a do-or-die three-game series on Monday night with the San Francisco Giants still on the outside of the wild card picture.

Despite a victory in five straight games -- their longest string of victories since another five-game run from July 18-23 -- the Dodgers sit two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card in the NL with three to play. While Los Angeles hosts NL West-champion San Francisco, St. Louis is taking on the Cincinnati Reds, who have already won the NL Central.

Los Angeles got two-run homers from Matt Kemp, Luis Cruz and A.J. Ellis in Sunday's 7-1 win over the Colorado Rockies and have outscored its opponents 34-7 over the five-game win streak.

The Dodgers have won a season-high six games in a row twice this year, last doing so on May 17-22.

"We painted ourselves into this corner," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "If we do what we have to do, St. Louis will have to win two games. We're forcing them to win games."

Mattingly turns to veteran Aaron Harang, who won for the first time in six starts on Wednesday at the San Diego Padres. He scattered four hits and four walks over 5 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out three in his first victory since Aug. 18.

The 34-year-old righty is 10-10 with a 3.68 earned run average in 30 starts this season and will face the Giants for the first time in 2012. He is 7-7 against them in 17 career starts with a 3.22 ERA.

Things won't be easy for the Dodgers tonight as they square off with the Giants' Matt Cain, who is likely to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series and gets one final tuneup tonight.

Cain has won three straight starts, giving up just two runs in that span, and is 6-0 with a 2.18 ERA over his last nine outings. He logged seven shutout innings in a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, working around four hits and a walk with six strikeouts.

The right-hander, who will pitch on his 28th birthday, is 16-5 this season with a 2.77 ERA. He has made three starts in 2012 versus the Dodgers, going 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA.

That has made Cain's career numbers in this series a bit more respectable as he sits 4-8 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 3.40 ERA.

The Giants have won four of their last five and rallied for a 7-5 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Down by a run in the ninth, Xavier Nady hit a pinch-hit solo homer to even things up and Hunter Pence added a go-ahead two-run homer in the frame.

"I liked the way the guys kept getting after it, especially after it was ugly there early," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

San Francisco has won five of its last six versus Los Angeles and lead the season series 9-6.