Who's the Dodgers' No. 1 pitcher?
While Manager Don Mattingly has diplomatically sidestepped the question in recent days, Zack Greinke on Sunday conceded the title of staff ace to Clayton Kershaw.
"Clayton's No. 1," Greinke said. "He's the best in the game."
Even so, Greinke continues to be the front-runner to win the National League Cy Young Award. And if his performance in a 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds was any indication, he remains solidly entrenched as the team's top hitting pitcher.
In addition to limiting the Reds to a run over seven innings, Greinke belted a fifth-inning solo home run that accounted for the winning run. The home run was the second in the last three starts for Greinke, who won a Silver Slugger Award last year.
"It just happened," said Greinke, who is batting a respectable .226.
The homer off Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani came directly after one by Joc Pederson. The back-to-back blasts, both to left-center field, reversed a 1-0 deficit.
"I knew I hit it good and the ball was carrying today, but it's a deep, deep part of the park," Greinke said.
But Greinke (13-2) sounded more satisfied with how pitched.
He allowed six hits and a walk while lowering his earned-run average to a major league-leading 1.58.
Greinke has allowed one or no runs in 17 of his 24 starts this season.
Still, he thought he entered this homestand on a minor slump.
Two starts ago, he allowed a season-high five earned runs in six innings.
"Even the two games before that, it was slowly getting worse," Greinke said. "Glad it only lasted like three games.
"Sort of back on track now."
Greinke touched 95 mph, which is harder than he was throwing earlier in the season.
"The last couple years, it's taken a couple months for the velocity to come," Greinke said. "This year, it was the same thing."
The Reds scored their only run in the top of the fifth inning. With Marlon Byrd on first base, Tucker Barnhart hit a sinking line drive to right field. Yasiel Puig failed to make a diving catch, resulting in a double for Barnhart that advanced Byrd to third base.
Byrd scored on a sacrifice fly by Billy Hamilton to move the Reds in front, 1-0.
Mattingly later said Puig's dive probably cost the Dodgers a run — Barnhart would have been limited to a single if Puig had kept the ball in front of him — but Greinke defended the right fielder.
"It was close enough that you want him to try for it," Greinke said.
Greinke encountered trouble in the seventh inning, when Byrd doubled and Barnhart walked with one out.
With former Dodgers utilityman Skip Schumaker pinch-hitting for DeSclafani, Mattingly visited Greinke on the mound.
"He asked how I felt, but also gave a semi-scouting report," Greinke said. "When a pinch-hitter comes up, I like knowing how to get him out. He had some advice for that."
Schumaker lined out to left field. Then Greinke got Hamilton to ground out to third base to end the inning.
The Dodgers don't have a game Monday, the first of three days off they will have in an eight-day window.
Mattingly said the Dodgers could use the days off to realign their rotation to ensure they get the most out of Greinke and Kershaw. The Dodgers are 29-17 in games started by Greinke or Kershaw and 38-34 in games started by anyone else.
Kershaw (10-6, 2.39 ERA) is scheduled to face Felix Doubront (0-0, 4.22) and the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at O.co Coliseum. TV: SportsNet LA; Radio: 570, 1020.