Zack Greinke will try to secure a piece of history when he opens his second half in a marquee pitching matchup.
The Dodgers right-hander will attempt to keep an opponent off the scoreboard for a sixth consecutive start Sunday while squaring off with the Washington Nationals' Max Scherzer.
Since 1914, only Orel Hershiser and Don Drysdale have registered six consecutive scoreless starts. The former Dodgers also own the two longest scoreless streaks in MLB history, and Greinke (8-2, 1.39 ERA) will attempt to move up the list in the finale to a three-game series in the nation's capital.
Greinke moved his scoreless streak to 35 2-3 innings with a 6-0 win over Philadelphia on July 9, yielding one hit, walking none and fanning eight. He gave up a leadoff homer to Mike Trout in Tuesday's All-Star Game but became the first pitcher since 1999 with four strikeouts in the Midsummer Classic.
"The things he's been doing so far have been great. He's almost been perfect," catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "You can't ask for anything else."
Greinke will next try to surpass Clayton Kershaw's 41-inning streak from last season and move into third on the Dodgers' all-time list. If he can stretch it past 42 innings, he'll have the second-longest since 1974 behind Hershiser's record 59.
"Things are just working and I'm trying to stay in the rhythm, I guess," Greinke told MLB's official website. "There hasn't been any bad luck and when that happens, it makes things easier."
Greinke finished the first half with the lowest ERA by a Dodgers pitcher since Drysdale's 1.37 in 1968, the same season of his 58-inning scoreless streak. Scherzer (10-7, 2.11) isn't far behind after nearly ending the first half with his fourth complete game in six starts.
The Nationals right-hander yielded two solo homers and two other hits in 8 2-3 innings in a 3-2 win in Baltimore last Sunday and lowered his ERA to 3.34 in his four starts since his first career no-hitter June 20 against Pittsburgh.
"Even when you do have large workloads, you stay consistent," Scherzer said. "I've done some good things in the first half. It's more important to do better things in the second half, because that's when it's going to matter."
Scherzer went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his two starts against the Dodgers last season while with Detroit after going 1-3 with a 4.55 ERA in his first five. Greinke is 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in five career starts versus Washington with rain limiting him to three innings in the most recent one, a 4-0 loss May 5, 2014.
He'll try to lead the Dodgers (52-40) to their 14th win in 21 games and eighth in 11 road contests while Scherzer will seek to deliver his team's 16th victory in 23 games.
The Nationals (49-40) completed a 5-3 win Saturday in a game that was suspended because of a trio of power outages a night earlier. Kershaw struck out 14 in an ensuing 4-2 victory for Los Angeles, and Bryce Harper fanned three times before hitting his 27th homer in the ninth.
Adrian Gonzalez had a pair of home runs over two days in the series opener, giving him 20 or more in a season for the ninth time. The Dodgers first baseman is 4 for 23 with no homers lifetime against Scherzer.