LOS ANGELES -- Last year, the uphill climb started on June 22. This year, on June 8. In both cases, the Dodgers were out 9 1/2 games in the National League West standings.
In 2013, the Dodgers went on a historic 42-8 run and finished the season 11 games up. The book isn't yet closed on this season, but the Dodgers enter Friday night's series opener with the Cubs at a season-high 3 games ahead of the second-place Giants.
While they haven't put together a 50-game run quite like last season's, the Dodgers are undeniably hot, riding a season-high six-game winning streak after not winning -- or losing -- three in a row the entire year.
How does this season's Dodgers run stack up?
"I didn't really notice it last year, honestly, that we went on that kind of run," manager Don Mattingly said Friday. "We were just kind of going day to day and kind of grinding it out. The similarities for me this year with last year is really us getting down a lot [in the standings].
"It seemed like earlier this year we got back in it, and once we got back in it, I felt pretty confident that we were going to at least be in the race. We didn't get into too much trouble there early."
And as of late, there's hardly been any trouble at all. The Dodgers went to San Francisco last weekend and swept a first-place Giants team to take the division lead, and they followed that series up with a three-game sweep of a tough Atlanta Braves team.
"I don't feel a whole lot different because it's just happening recently," Mattingly said of his team's run. "We hadn't won more than three or lost more than three, which kind of shows you we've been fairly consistent, we just haven't been on any kind of run. The San Francisco series, it felt like it gave us a little confidence.
"Hopefully, we just ride now."
Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less