A Dodgers team that's scored only 16 runs in its last eight games is running into a pitcher fresh off his finest start of the 2014 season.
Pirates right-hander Edinson Volquez tossed the second complete game of his career during his last trip to the mound, limiting the Cardinals to one run on six hits. In his last four starts, he's 4-0 with just three earned runs over 30 innings.
Volquez was victorious in his lone start against the Dodgers this season, giving the Pirates five innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts on June 1.
He'll be opposed Monday night at PNC Park by left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who bounced back nicely in his first-half finale after one of the worst performances of his brief career.
Five days after being rocked for 10 hits and seven runs in Detroit, Ryu struck out 10 Padres over six scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory.
Ryu is undefeated in two career starts against the Pirates. He's recorded 10 strikeouts and has a 2.92 ERA through 12 1/3 innings against Pittsburgh.
Pirates: Mercer moving past Mendoza line struggles
When the calendar flipped to July, Jordy Mercer was batting .227 on the season and had 27 hits -- compared to 21 strikeouts -- in the month of June.
July's been a different story, though. Mercer is hitting .375 (21-for-56) with nine RBIs in 16 games this month, which has raised his average to .254. He chipped in a walk-off double on Saturday and a two-run single on Sunday.
At the end of May, Mercer found himself below the Mendoza line (.200). His bat has been a pleasant surprise for a resurgent Pirates squad that finds itself back in playoff contention and was 13th in runs scored across the Majors entering Sunday.
"He was really hot before the break, swinging the bat extremely well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Hopefully, he's settled in. ... He's capable of driving in runs, he's getting more confidence every time he takes the field."
Dodgers: Puig's status unknown
The Dodgers plan to take a cautious route with Yasiel Puig after the All-Star right fielder left Saturday's game in St. Louis early after being hit by a pitch on the left hand.
X-rays on Puig's hand at Busch Stadium on Saturday night came back negative. The Dodgers planned to use the Pirates' machine when the team arrives in Pittsburgh on Monday for precautionary second results.
Puig has not been cleared to perform baseball activities and wasn't available to pinch-hit in Sunday night's 4-3 victory over the Cardinals.
"We'll be cautious at this point," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We think it's going to be OK."
Puig remained in the game after Cardinals starter Joe Kelly hit him in the third inning with an 84-mph changeup, and popped out in foul territory in the sixth. After that at-bat, the team became aware that his hand had become sore, but he was able to play defense and remained in the field through the seventh before Matt Kemp pinch-hit for him in the eighth.
"He hit the next time up and then after that is when [trainer] Stan [Conte] came to me and said it was getting sore," Mattingly said. "That's when we knew he wasn't going to be able to hit the next time."
Puig's injury comes with the Dodgers' offense in a funk. They've scored just 16 runs in their last eight games. Puig has hit .308 this season with 107 hits -- including 12 home runs -- and 52 RBIs.
• Pittsburgh's win on Sunday pushed the Pirates to 52-46, which matched the highest they've been above .500 this season.
• Shortstop Hanley Ramirez was hit on the left hand by a 99-mph fastball from Trevor Rosenthal on Sunday night and left the game. Earlier in the game, Ramirez was hit on the left shoulder by Carlos Martinez.
Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.