The Dodgers are catching the San Francisco Giants at a weak moment, but will it matter?

Brandon Belt

San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who a year ago reminded everyone that “you can’t buy chemistry,” won’t play this weekend against the Dodgers because of a concussion. (Associated Press photo)


SAN FRANCISCO >> Giants versus Dodgers.

First place versus second.

The weekend series doesn’t need any subplots — it can sell itself — but here’s a subplot anyway.

The Dodgers find themselves in the rare position of being at relatively full strength. Only utility player Chone Figgins is on the disabled list, though that could change if Hanley Ramirez can’t grip a bat soon.

The Giants only wish they were that healthy.

Veteran pitcher Matt Cain went on the 15-day disabled list Monday with elbow soreness. Cain was 2-7 with a 4.18 earned-run average this season. He’d faced the Dodgers twice, with mixed results. He gave up five runs in a 6-2 loss on April 6 and took a no-decision May 10, another 6-2 Dodgers win. Cain is 5-11 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 career starts against the Dodgers.

Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelson and Yusmeiro Petit will oppose Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu in that order.

Center fielder Angel Pagan hasn’t played since June 14 because of a bulging disk in his lower back. First baseman Brandon Belt is out for the weekend because of a concussion. Both Pagan (.297/.409/.378) and Belt (.333/.394/.467) had been Dodger killers this season. These two injuries have left some wondering whether the Giants’ bench is the weakest in baseball.

And yet, San Francisco has won five of six coming out of the All-Star break to leapfrog the Dodgers into first place. Playing the Marlins and Phillies isn’t as tough as the Cardinals and Pirates, but it’s clear the Giants won’t use their injuries as an excuse for poor play.

The Dodgers, who have lost four of six out of the break, can’t.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the 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.