Don Mattingly has said it before. And with each game that passes, he knows it's still true.
"That's what we were built to do -- pitch," the Dodgers' manager said Tuesday afternoon.
On Sunday, Josh Beckett threw Major League Baseball's first no-hitter of 2014, and the first of his career. The day after that, Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed seven perfect innings. And that was Los Angeles' third and fourth starters.
On Tuesday, Zack Greinke took the mound against the Reds having turned in a big league record 22 consecutive start of two or fewer earned runs allowed. And on Wednesday, two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw will take the mound against right-hander Homer Bailey in the series finale.
Kershaw's last start was Friday in Philadelphia, where he gave up just two hits in six scoreless innings en route to a 2-0 Dodgers victory. He's 3-1 on the season with a 3.49 ERA, and 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA against the Reds. Cincinnati is hitting .214 off him.
"We've been pretty confident in our rotation the whole time," Mattingly said. "They've basically given us a chance to win every night. Now, they're staring to go deeper into games, which really allows us to set up our bullpen."
The rotation has been so dominant that Mattingly and the Dodgers have even restructured their defense in an effort to give their pitchers maximum support.
Andre Ethier is replacing Matt Kemp in center field, and Kemp -- a Golden Glove winner in center field in 2009 and '11 -- is preparing for time in left. After ankle surgery in the offseason, the Dodgers believe that he's not getting to fly balls as quickly as he used to.
"It's not sexy to play good defense, but it was costing us games," Mattingly said. "This pitching is that good. We've got to be able to catch the ball for them."
Looking to slow the Dodgers down on offense will be Bailey, who is 3-3 with a 4.01 ERA in eight career starts against them, and 4-3 with a 5.34 ERA overall on the season.
In his last start, against the Cardinals, Bailey gave up three runs on eight singles in six innings. The Reds won, 5-3.
"I thought we actually pitched a pretty good game, better than the innings and numbers show," Bailey said. "Eight singles -- there were a couple of balls that could have very easily been double plays, but they weren't hit hard enough, which sounds kind of strange."
Dodgers: Ramirez back in the lineup
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who had been out of the starting lineup with a strained left calf since May 22, returned on Tuesday.
"It got better and better," Ramirez said.
Ramirez batted fourth in a new-look lineup, with Adrian Gonzalez batting fifth. Gonzalez held down the four slot in his first 50 starts before Mattingly decided to put his lefties together, with Dee Gordon and Carl Crawford at one and two and Gonzalez and Ethier at five and six. Between them, with the intentions of making it harder for opposing teams to match up, are right-handed hitters Yasiel Puig and Ramirez.
Reds: Cincy trying to find energy against dominant pitchers
Third baseman Todd Frazier knows what has come -- seven perfect innings from Ryu on Monday and Greinke on Tuesday -- and what will come in Kershaw.
Between those three pitchers in the Dodgers series, and facing Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals series on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, generating offense isn't an easy task.
"We've got a battle coming up. It doesn't get easier. In the Major Leagues, every pitcher is a big pitcher," Frazier said.
To achieve the desired results, he said, it requires a level of energy that he thinks the Reds are currently missing.
"It's your job. You have to figure something out," he said. "Be that athlete that you know you can be and how you used to play when we're little. I used to scream and yell and get excited. Bring that emotion."
• Kemp got some pregame work in left field. Mattingly said Kemp will get a start in left when he says he's comfortable there.
• Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco batted third Tuesday for first time in his big league career.
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.