Yu Darvish returns to the mound Sunday as the Los Angeles Dodgers look to bounce back from a rare home loss in the rubber match of their three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Darvish missed his last start with lower back tightness but has been cleared to face the Brewers, who are three games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central and trail Colorado by 3 1/2 for the second wild-card spot.
Milwaukee evened the series with Saturday’s 3-0 victory behind Zach Davies’ seven strong innings and Orlando Arcia’s 13th home run. The Brewers have won eight of their last 11 games but still have a giant question mark at the leadoff spot, where manager Craig Counsell has received mixed results all season from Jonathan Villar, Eric Thames, Eric Sogard and utilityman Hernan Perez, who got the nod on Saturday and went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. The Dodgers, who have gone 56-12 since June 7 and lead the NL West by 20 games, could have rookie sensation Cody Bellinger (right ankle) back from the disabled list when eligible on Wednesday. Corey Seager singled in Saturday’s victory and is 22-for-62 during his season-high 14-game hitting streak.
TV: 4:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network,FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), SportsNet LA (Los Angeles)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Brewers RH Jimmy Nelson (9-6, 3.79 ERA) vs. Dodgers RH Yu Darvish (8-9, 3.83)
Nelson is seeking his first win since Aug. 1 after allowing three runs over five innings in a no-decision against San Francisco on Tuesday. The 28-year-old entered the weekend tied for fourth in the NL with 175 strikeouts. Curtis Granderson is 4-for-7 with two home runs against Nelson, who is 0-2 with a 1.33 ERA in four career starts versus the Dodgers - including eight scoreless frames in the Brewers’ 2-1 loss on June 2.
Darvish will be activated from the disabled list to make his first start since a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 16, when he allowed three runs over six frames. “He looks healthy, feels strong and the execution in the bullpen was really good,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters. “He’s excited to make that next start on Sunday.” The 31-year-old native of Japan will be facing the Brewers for the first time in his career.
1. Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw tossed five strong innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday and is expected to rejoin the rotation next weekend in San Diego.
2. Brewers C Andrew Susac (trapezius) will begin a rehab assignment this week and could be activated on Friday.
3. Los Angeles has won 31 of its last 36 home games since June 7.
PREDICTION: Dodgers 5, Brewers 3