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WSH@SF: Bumgarner goes the distance against the Nats

It's difficult to crank up the intensity much more in one of the biggest rivalries in professional sports, but there will be plenty at stake when the Dodgers and Giants open their fourth showdown of the season.

The rivals collide for a three-game series with first place in the National League West on the line, starting with Monday's matchup featuring two pitchers on top of their respective games in the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Giants' Madison Bumgarner.

Los Angeles carries a half-game lead into the series.

"Big games," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said about the series. "Every game now is big, this series obviously. That's the way it is this time of year, it's a constant grind. We have two races going at the same time [division and Wild Card]."

The series is the first since the Dodgers outscored the Giants, 19-3, at AT&T Park in late July, sweeping them in three games and shutting them out in the last two. Kershaw played a big role in the sweep that pulled the Dodgers back into a first-place tie with the Giants by throwing a shutout in the final game of the series, striking out seven batters while only allowing five hits.

"Any time you sweep the Giants at home, regardless of what happened the previous series, it's a big deal," Kershaw said afterward.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner enters Monday with a four-start win streak, but the Dodgers will have their hands full with the Giants' young star left-hander. The 23-year-old Bumgarner is coming off an impressive outing in which he held the Nationals to one run on five hits in his second career complete game.

The gem came the day after the Giants lost, 14-2, to the Nationals, with Bumgarner's effort jump-starting team energy and aiding a fatigued bullpen.

"With the situation, you need your starter to come through with a big game, and you couldn't ask for a better game than we got from Bumgarner," manager Bruce Bochy said.

The Dodgers will face the Giants for the first time since San Francisco lost its leading hitter Melky Cabrera, but Mattingly isn't banking on the All-Star left fielder's 50-game suspension after testing positive for testosterone, a banned performance-enhancing substance, having too deep of a negative impact on his division rivals, especially with strong starting pitchers like Bumgarner.

"The team is resilient," Mattingly said. "They'll keep playing. Talk radio can talk about what they want, but they've got pitching. In a sense, they're doing what we did when our guys got hurt. Pitching is what it always gets back to. It's not sexy like home runs and RBIs, but it wins games."

Giants: Relievers qualify for appearances-based bonuses
• Like many relievers in the Majors, several Giants are in line to get contract bonuses for the number of appearances. Santiago Casilla, the Giants' former embattled closer and current setup man, will receive an extra $25,000 now that he has more than 50 appearances (he has 51 as of Sunday), with another such bonus coming at 55 appearances.

Newly acquired Jose Mijares receives an additional $15,000 whenever his appearance total exceeds 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60. He enters Sunday having 57 total appearances this year between the Royals and Giants.

Dodgers: Elbert rejoins Dodgers, bullpen
• The Dodgers activated Scott Elbert before Sunday's game against the Braves and optioned utility man Elian Herrera to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room for the left-handed reliever.

Elbert had been sidelined since July 26 with left elbow inflammation, while Herrera was called up from the Minors on Aug. 13 when Jerry Hairston went on the disabled list. The Dodgers now have eight relievers while only having four bench position players.

Elbert pitched a perfect ninth inning to seal the Dodgers' 5-0 win over the Braves on Sunday.

Worth noting
• Bumgarner has a 4.06 ERA on the road this season compared with an NL-best 1.87 at home.

• Mattingly will be back with the Dodgers after serving his two-game suspension for arguing in the second inning of Thursday's game against the Pirates.

• Kershaw is 1-2 with a 1.57 ERA in three starts against the Giants this season and is 7-3 with a 1.32 ERA in 15 career games against them. Comments