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Venue changes but not the results

8/16/2013

The Dodgers win at home. They win on the road.

They beat Cy Young winners, up-and-coming aces and back-of-the-rotation starters. They beat National League teams and American League teams, contenders and teams playing out the string.

They beat veteran managers and guys making their debuts (in this case, Ryne Sandberg managing his first game in place of fired Charlie Manuel).

They just keep winning, at a ridiculous rate. After Friday's 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies -- spearheaded by Zack Greinke and Hanley Ramirez and at the expense of Cliff Lee -- at Citizens Bank Park, they have gone 24-3 since the All-Star break, 41-8 since June 22 and have won nine straight games. Pick a sample size. They're all impressive.

Since 1900, only one other team -- the 1944 St. Louis Cardinals -- has played this well for this long. The Dodgers have been the best team in baseball for nearly one-third of the season. Unless the Dodgers have a dramatic change of course, their October trajectory is looking surer and surer. They gained a game from the Arizona Diamondbacks and now lead the NL West by a commanding 8½ games.

Greinke hasn't reached the heights of Clayton Kershaw, but he's looking like one of the best No. 2 starters in baseball. He gave up only three hits in a game that suggested his stuff was far from dominant -- he walked four batters and had only three strikeouts. Greinke is 8-1 since June 16.

No matter how many times his season is disrupted, Ramirez just keeps on putting up monster numbers. Manager Don Mattingly has marveled at Ramirez's ability to return from a lengthy layoff and still hit major league pitching with such authority.

Of course, there's major league pitching and then there's Lee. Ramirez has consistently gotten the better of the Phillies' ace. His two-run home run in the fourth inning made him 8-for-15 with three home runs against Lee.

As good as the Dodgers' pitching has been, it could get even better with the addition of veteran reliever Brian Wilson, who threw a simulated game in Philadelphia and could come off the disabled list as soon as Sunday. It certainly will get more colorful.

Wilson plans to wear No. 00. That will be a Dodgers first.

"Every other number was taken," Wilson told reporters.