Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke aiming for a personal honor tonight.

Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke is in the early running for National League pitcher of the month for August. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers have a 9 ½ game lead on the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks entering their three-game series against the Chicago Cubs. Tonight’s pitcher, Zack Greinke, would like to give the Dodgers some more breathing room in the standings, not that they need much.

Greinke also has a personal milestone at stake, and unless the Diamondbacks can make things interesting in the next five weeks, the personal milestones will occupy much of this space.

Greinke was selected as the 2009 American League April Pitcher of the Month while with Kansas City. He hasn’t won the award in either league since. Through four starts in August, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.96 earned-run average (3 ER/28.0 IP). He’s allowed just one run in his last 21 ⅔ innings dating to August 10 and has won nine of his last 10 decisions since June 22, ranking fourth in the Majors with a 2.14 ERA (20 ER/84.0 IP) in 12 starts in that span.

No one will ever accuse the Dodgers of underpaying Greinke, whose six-year, $159 million deal signed last December was the richest ever at the time for a right-hander. (Felix Hernandez has since laid waste to Greinke’s claim.) However, when his ERA was at 4.30 back on July 3, Greinke certainly heard accusations of being overpaid — especially considering his month-plus on the disabled list following an ill-advised brawl with Carlos Quentin in San Diego.

That seems like a long, long time ago.

Today’s lineups:

Carl Crawford LF
Yasiel Puig RF
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Andre Ethier CF
A.J. Ellis C
Mark Ellis 2B
Nick Punto 3B
Zack Greinke P

Starlin Castro SS
Junior Lake CF
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Nate Schierholtz RF
Brian Bogusevic LF
Donnie Murphy 3B
Welington Castillo C
Darwin Barney 2B
Jake Arrieta P

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.