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A Freeway Series with both teams thinking October

Lisa Blumenfeld

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers and Angels renew their Freeway Series rivalry on Monday night, with Zack Greinke and Garrett Richards facing off at Dodger Stadium, the first of a four-game, two-city series. This season finds the two teams in the rare position of both in contention.

The Dodgers (63-49) own the best record in the National League, while the Angels (66-44) have the second-best mark in the American League.

This is the 54th year of existence for the Angels, and during that time both the Dodgers and Angels have made the playoffs in the same season only three times: 2004, 2008 and 2009.

The two teams have won 90 games in the same season only four times: 1985, 2002, 2004 and 2009. Their combined .581 winning percentage this season would rank third all-time in their joint existence, trailing only 2009 (.593) and 2002 (.590).

The closest we have been to a Freeway World Series was 2009, when both teams reached the League Championship Series, only to lose to the Yankees and Phillies.

The Dodgers never seem to play well against the Angels in their regular season matchups. The Halos are 56-40 against the Dodgers, who have won only three of their 17 season series: 1997 (4-0), 1999 (4-2) and 2006 (4-2). The split last season almost qualified as a win for the Dodgers, and was a microcosm of how their meetings usually play out.

Last year the Dodgers won both home games, and are 24-24 against the Angels at Dodger Stadium. But they lost both games in Anaheim, where the Dodgers are 16-32 and have lost 19 of their last 26 and 25 of their last 34 at Angel Stadium.

Greinke faced the Angels once since leaving them as a free agent at the end of 2012. He allowed six runs (four earned) on 10 hits in four innings on May 27, 2013 at Dodger Stadium, a game the Dodgers trailed 6-1 but came back to win 8-7.

Since joining the Dodgers Greinke is 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA in six starts against American League teams, with 34 strikeouts and only three walks in 36 innings.

Richards has faced the Dodgers four times in his career. He started against them twice in 2012, allowing 21 baserunners in 11⅔ innings but only five runs in a pair of no-decisions. Last year Richards pitched two scoreless innings of relief against Los Angeles.

In 2014, Richards has been one of the great stories in the American League, at 11-4 with a 2.74 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 144⅓ innings. In the last two months he has been even better at 7-2 with a 1.97 ERA, averaging just over seven innings per start.

All of six active Dodgers have faced Richards, and just two have hits. Dee Gordon is 4-for-6 with a double, a walk and two steals against the right-hander, and forgotten man Andre Ethier is 2-for-5 with two doubles and a walk against him.

Erick Aybar has owned Greinke to the tune of 8-for-19 (.421) with five doubles and two walks. Albert Pujols is 9-for-26 (.346) with four doubles and four walks. Mike Trout is 2-for-3 (.667) with a triple against him.

On the flip side, Josh Hamilton 1-for-22 (.045) with a walk and nine strikeouts.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA, Fox Sports West (Angels broadcast)