The Los Angeles Dodgers bring the best record in the National League to Wrigley Field when they open a three-game series against the host Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles has won seven of its past eight games to vault to the top of the NL West division standings. The Dodgers have outscored opponents 34-21 since April 14.
Cody Bellinger has led the way, hitting .424 with 11 home runs and 28 RBI in 23 games. The 23-year-old also showcased his glove in the outfield when he robbed Milwaukee Brewers slugger Christian Yelich of a home run in Sunday's series finale, which the Dodgers held on to win by one run.
"He's just playing incredible baseball," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said of Bellinger, who has split time between first base and right field. "All the way, across the board. He just impacts the game in so many ways when he's out there."
Much like Los Angeles, Chicago also has played well as of late. The Cubs staggered to a 3-8 start but have won seven of nine games since then to climb back to .500.
Better pitching has fueled the Cubs' turnaround. They have allowed two runs or fewer in five of their last six contests, including a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana (2-1, 3.43 ERA) is set to make his fourth start of the season. He has won back-to-back starts and has gone 14 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
In three career starts against the Dodgers, Quintana is 0-1 with a 1.40 ERA. The Dodgers are one of only five teams against whom he has not recorded a victory. The others are the Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and the two clubs he has played for, the Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
The Dodgers counter with right-hander Kenta Maeda (3-1, 3.80 ERA), who will make his fifth start. The 31-year-old from Japan is coming off his second quality start of the season after he limited the Cincinnati Reds to one run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings on April 16.
Maeda is 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA in two career starts against Chicago. Both appearances came last season, when Maeda allowed eight hits, walked six and struck out 11 in 10 2/3 innings.
This is the teams' first matchup of the season. They also will play a four-game set in June in Los Angeles.
Last year, the Cubs won the season series 4-3 and outscored the Dodgers 35-23 in those contests.
Javier Baez said he and his Cubs teammates welcomed the test against a first-place opponent.
"We're going to play hard against every team, no matter who it is, no matter what place they're at," Baez told reporters. "When other teams come to Chicago, things change. Because obviously we're like the eyes of everything. When you say 'Chicago Cubs,' everybody pays a lot of attention.
"It's going to be a good series. We play pretty good baseball against them and hopefully it goes our way."
--Field Level Media
Cubs welcome red-hot Dodgers to Wrigley