NEW YORK – Every Los Angeles commuter can tell you that three inflated tires are not enough to get the car from the front door to the office.

And so it is with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have much of the offense clicking, but one aspect still needs proper inflation.

So even though the Dodgers’ offense is far better than it was during the first two months of the season, there remains an issue with producing against left-handed pitching. New York Yankees starter CC Sabathia is just the latest lefty to make life miserable for the Dodgers. He led the Yankees to a 3-0 victory Tuesday in the Bronx.

The Dodgers know the flaw and are trying to fix it. Talking about it hasn’t improved the situation.

As it has been for the Cubs all season, as Lester builds his case for an individual award, it is done in service to a burgeoning team success. Chicago earned its 96th win of the season, improved to 54-23 at Wrigley Field, and trimmed its magic number for clinching the top seed in the National League playoffs to three.

With two starts remaining, Lester is one shy of his career-high in victories of 19, achieved in 2010 for Boston. He’s probably the only remaining National League pitcher with a shot at winning 20 games this season.

The veteran Sabathia might be in the midst of an up-and-down season, but he looked to be in control while holding the Dodgers to three hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Dodgers’ left-hander issue is far from an unknown. And the problem is not just with starting pitchers.

The Yankees got a glimpse of it Monday in their 8-2 loss to L.A.. While Yanks right-hander Bryan Mitchell started the game, giving up six runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings, left-handed relievers Chasen Shreve, Richard Bleier and James Pazos gave up a combined one run on one hit over 5 2/3 innings.

The Dodgers are stacked with left-handed hitting options such as Joc Pederson, Chase Utley, Corey Seager, Josh Reddick and Adrian Gonzalez. Yasmani Grandal is a switch hitter, but most of his damage has come from the left side.

The whole at-bat had a playoff feel to it, right down to three separate conferences on the mound to make sure Rodriguez and catcher Sandy Leon were on the same page. And Rodriguez’s emphatic fist pump after Trumbo swung through strike three was an indication that he understood the significance of the moment.

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As the Houston Astros battle to stay in the playoff chase, it’s not clear whether two starters who helped them to the postseason last year will do the same this year.

The 88-year-old announcer tells the Los Angeles Times his Hall of Fame career will end Oct. 2 in San Francisco. Scully had already said this will be his final season in the booth after 67 years, but until Tuesday had not announced whether he planned to call any potential postseason games on radio.

Scully says if he stayed on the air, he would be “saying goodbye like in grand opera, where you say goodbye 12 different times.”

His decision was not a surprise to the team, Dodgers spokesman Joe Jareck says.

Scully has two farewells coming up: First, on Sept. 25 during the Dodgers’ final home game of the regular season and then a week later at San Francisco.

Looking for their first World Series appearance since winning the 1988 championship, the Dodgers began the night with a four-game lead in the NL West over the Giants.

Scully switched from television to radio in recent years during the playoffs, when national broadcasters have exclusive TV rights.

Not this time.

The 26-year-old Cole threw 29 of his 55 pitches for strikes. He had hopes to boost a Pirates team that is all but out of the NL wild-card race, but instead is making his third trip to the DL this season.

“I’m disappointed. There’s just not enough time to recover,” Cole told reporters Tuesday. “I’m disappointed I’m not out there to help the team. That’s the one thing I’ve been fighting for all season, to try to be able to contribute to our ultimate goal. It’s unfortunate we ran out of time.”

We mentioned the Cubs’ power display in last year’s NLDS, and indeed Chicago clubbed 10 home runs in the series. The Cardinals, though, hit eight, and this season St. Louis leads the NL in homers. Meanwhile, the Cubs’ pitching staff is an aggressive bunch, and as a group it hasn’t allowed much of anything. Their opponent batting average is an almost unbelievable .210. They’ve also surrendered a league-low isolated slugging average.

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The New York Yankees have already accomplished what looked impossible earlier this season: They have become interesting and exciting, and have given their fans hope.

Now, they can take it to the next level with four games against the last-place Tampa Bay Rays. If they sweep, and move 12 games above .500 with 20 games to go, they would have quite a story to tell.

Yes, there’s something fitting about Tebow making all kinds of headlines hours before his former team, the Broncos, would start defending its Super Bowl title. Make no mistake: This is not a Denver story. This is a New York, New York, story all the way.

Fred Wilpon’s Mets tried to be George Steinbrenner’s Yankees here, and knowledgeable locals understand why. Until recently the Mets cowered in the shadow of their big-budget neighbors, who were forever shaped by the advice a young Steinbrenner received from the Nederlanders, a prominent theater family, on how to survive around Broadway. “New York,” they told the wannabe Boss in the early 1970s, “is a star-vehicle town.”

But from Catfish to Reggie to Winfield to Henderson to Clemens to Giambi to Matsui to A-Rod, Steinbrenner made sure his recruiting trips weren’t always about box-office traffic and back-page buzz. He landed big names who could, you know, play a pretty mean game of baseball. That was the one non-negotiable part of his deals.

“He has demonstrated over his athletic career that he is a tremendous athlete, has got character, a competitive spirit. Aside from the age (29), this is a classic player-development opportunity for us. As an organization, we’re going to provide that development opportunity for Tim.”

The decision nonetheless was made at the highest levels of the organization — by Alderson and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon — and did not intimately involve the team’s baseball-operations personnel. The Mets were one of 28 teams to attend Tebow’s showcase last week in Los Angeles.

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BALTIMORE — For the Jekyll-and-Hyde Orioles to make it back to the postseason, they’ll need to hide Hyde down the stretch. So far, so good.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Alvarez said of his team’s multidimensional dismantling, as B.o.B’s bouncy single “So Good” blared in the background. “That’s the name of the game, though. You’re not going to be working on all cylinders at all times. The teams that have the most success are the teams that can do that more often throughout the year. That’s what we try to do every time we go out there. We know it’s not going to be a hundred percent of the time, but anytime you can get the ball rolling on all ends, that’s usually the recipe for a W at the end of the day. Obviously, a day like today is a lot of fun, and we hope to have a lot more coming up here.”

“I’m happy that I was given the opportunity again,” Puig said Friday through an interpreter before the game. “It was helpful for me to go to Oklahoma City and being able to share with the coaches there and with other players. It just helps me moving forward.”

Puig started in right field and batted fifth against the Padres. His two singles boosted his batting average to .263. He has seven home runs and 34 RBIs in 281 at-bats.

“Yasiel has done everything we asked of him; we felt ultimately that he makes us better, that was the deciding factor,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM earlier in the day.

Puig said it was “a little strange” to be back with the Dodgers but that he had learned how to be more disciplined and a better teammate.

“Five minutes ago, I was talked to by my teammates, and they explained to me what they needed from me,” Puig said. “That was really what I was looking for was a talk with my teammates, a talk with everyone and have an understanding of what was needed from me to succeed with this team. Now I’m going to get to work, and hopefully you will see the success of 2013. That’s what I will be working for.”

He also said he hadn’t worried about whether he would return.

“I was just doing my job in Oklahoma,” he said. “I was doing the things I wasn’t doing here. They made the right choice sending me down there. But now I was doing the correct things to come back; I’m here now and grateful for the opportunity.”

Earlier this week, Roberts said he was unsure whether Puig, who had been at Oklahoma City since Aug. 2, would be called up. MLB rosters expanded Thursday.

Before deciding to have their ace pitch in Single-A this weekend, the Dodgers hinted at a Kershaw return as early as the upcoming homestand, but that scenario always seemed overly optimistic at best and risky at worst. When a pitcher misses two months with a back injury, the normal course of events wouldn’t have him returning to the majors after throwing just two simulated innings.

The Dodgers have stayed relatively quiet when it has come to Kershaw’s status, outside of a blip when manager Dave Roberts dared to say that surgery wasn’t out of the question if he was being completely honest. That type of honesty, though, only maxed out the panic meter in Los Angeles.

SEPT. 13-OCT. 2: Simple math says that if Kershaw returns to the major leagues on Sept. 10 or 11, he could make four more regular-season starts to fine-tune his stuff for a potential postseason run. If his return is held off until Sept. 12 or later, then three more regular-season appearances are likely. Either way, it should give him enough time to work through any issues that would have arisen from a long layoff, assuming those issues are mechanical in nature and not physical. A Sept. 10 or 11 return also would line Kershaw up for potentially two outings against San Francisco down the stretch. If he returns on Sept. 12, he likely would not face the Giants during the stretch run.

OCT. 5: So why would the Dodgers even consider a Sept. 12 return for Kershaw if he would miss the Giants twice and make three, instead of four, regular-season appearances? One reason could be that it would line up the left-hander to pitch in a potential NL wild-card game on Oct. 5 if the Dodgers don’t win the NL West. Even if the Dodgers do win the division, Kershaw would be afforded a longer rest heading into the first division series game with a Sept. 12 return, although he would have one less regular-season start to prepare himself.

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