Hyun-Jin Ryu has experienced more success against the San Diego Padres than any other major league team, and the Los Angeles Dodgers hope the left-hander continues that trend Sunday in the series finale at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers (86-69) have a 1 1/2-game lead over the Colorado Rockies for first place in the National League West.
After the Dodgers conclude the series with the Padres (62-93), they'll play their final six games on the road.
Colorado (84-70) wraps up a nine-game road trip at the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday and plays its final seven games at home.
Ryu is 6-1 in nine career starts against San Diego with a 2.52 ERA. He won both outings against the Padres this season, mainly because of his pitching, but he also benefited from better-than-average offensive support in those wins.
Ryu (5-3, 2.18 ERA) allowed two runs and three hits in six innings and struck out a season-high nine batters on April 16 in a 10-3 win in San Diego.
After a groin injury in May sidelined Ryu until August, he faced the Padres again Aug. 26 at Dodger Stadium and allowed two runs (one earned) and scattered 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings of the 7-3 win.
Ryu went 0-2 in his next three starts with the losses coming against the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds, two teams far out of playoff contention.
He bounced back to throw seven shutout innings against Colorado on Monday in an 8-2 win that moved the Dodgers ahead of the Rockies for first place.
"To start the year, (Ryu) was throwing the ball really well and he just has that ability to control the heartbeat and make pitches," manager Dave Roberts told reporters after the win over Colorado. "You have a guy who can get lefties and righties out, can really throw a strike when he needs to. There's a lot of trust there, and Hyun-Jin's earned it."
Padres third baseman Wil Myers is 4-for-9 in his career against Ryu with a home run.
The Padres will send left-hander Joey Lucchesi to the mound for the 25th start of his rookie season.
Lucchesi (8-8, 3.74) lost his two starts against the Dodgers in 2018, both in San Diego.
He gave up three runs and five hits in five innings on May 4, but four Los Angeles pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter in the 4-0 victory.
Lucchesi allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits in four innings of a 4-2 loss to the Dodgers on July 11.
Lucchesi will be looking to win back-to-back decisions for the first time since April, when he went 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA.
"I'm a competitor, man," Lucchesi told MLB.com after the win. "I always go out there just to give my team the best chance to win. That's always how I've been as a character and a human being. I always try to fight for my boys."