Ryan Vogelsong is looking to further tighten the race with another outstanding performance at home.
Kershaw and Vogelsong will face each other for the second time this season as the bitter rivals continue their series Tuesday night.
Kershaw (5-3, 2.73 ERA) was charged with a 2-1 loss in his most recent start against San Francisco (41-33) on May 8. He allowed two runs and five hits with seven strikeouts in eight innings opposite Vogelsong (6-3, 2.41), who scattered eight hits in 7 1-3 while holding Los Angeles (43-31) to one run.
The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner had gone 6-0 with a 0.88 ERA in his previous seven starts against the Giants. He hasn't allowed an earned run over 31 2-3 innings while winning four starts in a row at San Francisco.
The Dodgers, though, have dropped six of the first seven on this nine-game road trip and their division lead was cut to two games after an 8-0 loss to the Giants on Monday.
"Everybody's building this series up like it's a big deal," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "For us, it's one game. It's a long season, a long grind. We play these guys a lot more throughout the year. Talk to me about the series in August or September and I'll talk about if it's a big series or not."
Giving the ball to Kershaw may not be enough to widen their lead, given that the Los Angeles offense has a .177 average with 13 runs in its last seven games.
The Dodgers squandered their ace's latest outing, as he yielded one run and three hits in eight innings while the bats managed three hits and the bullpen failed to record an out in a 4-1 loss at Oakland on Thursday.
Part of the offensive woes are due to Matt Kemp 's absence. Los Angeles has totaled six homers while going 11-13 since the center fielder began his current stint on the disabled list May 31, and his timetable for a return is still unclear after the team announced Monday that he would likely miss the All-Star game.
Kemp has 12 homers in 36 games this season.
"It's big," said Barry Zito , Monday's winner. "They're pretty banged up over there and we've got to capitalize on that."
Having Vogelsong take the mound at home should help. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his last five starts there - the Giants have won all five - and he's 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA against the Dodgers since returning to the majors last year.
Vogelsong may have extra motivation in starting opposite Kershaw again after his first loss in nine starts Wednesday, which came against the Los Angeles Angels and their ace Jered Weaver . Vogelsong allowed three runs and seven hits while hitting two batters in seven innings of the 6-0 defeat, while the Giants mustered four hits - two off Weaver.
"If people are going to start taking me seriously, these are the games I need to win - against guys like Weaver and other teams' No. 1 pitchers," Vogelsong said.
Pablo Sandoval is 16 for 27 with eight RBIs in his last 10 meetings with the Dodgers after collecting three hits - two doubles - and three RBIs Monday. He went 3 for 9 versus Kershaw last year.
|Tony Gwynn Jr.||0||.000||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000|
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||1||.000||0||0||0||0||0||.500||.500||.000|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|June 03, 2012||Javy Guerra||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|May 31, 2012||Matt Kemp||15-Day DL||Re-aggravated strained left hamstring|
|May 30, 2012||Matt Kemp||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|May 24, 2012||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Left shoulder inflammation|
|May 23, 2012||Justin Sellers||15-Day DL||Bulging disc in lower back|
|May 19, 2012||Mark Ellis||15-Day DL||Sprained left knee|
|San Francisco Giants|
|June 14, 2012||Aubrey Huff||Day-to-Day||Sprained right knee|
|June 11, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|June 07, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right hamstring|
|June 02, 2012||Santiago Casilla||Day-to-Day||Bruised knee|
|May 16, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left toe|
|May 16, 2012||Joaquin Arias||Day-to-Day||Left forearm contusion|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Ryan Vogelsong picked up where Barry Zito left off and the San Francisco Giants had the Los Angeles Dodgers once again searching for answers and runs.
Vogelsong pitched seven innings to outduel San Francisco nemesis Clayton Kershaw for the second time this season and Melky Cabrera homered to help the Giants move within a game of Los Angeles for first place in the NL West with a 2-0 victory Tuesday night.
Vogelsong (7-3) followed Zito's seven innings in Monday's 8-0 win in the series opener with his own gem, marking the first time the Dodgers had been blanked in consecutive games in San Francisco since 1987 and for the second time ever.
"It's hard to do, especially against a good club," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Our pitching has been right on in this series. Vogey was tough today, good stuff, good command."
Cabrera's leadoff homer in the fourth snapped Kershaw's streak of 35 2-3 consecutive innings in San Francisco without allowing an earned run to the delight of the sellout crowd chanting "BEAT L-A! BEAT L-A!" all night. Pablo Sandoval added an RBI single for the Giants, who haven't been this close to first place since after the first day of the season.
Kershaw (5-4) allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings but got no support from the Dodgers' struggling hitters who sorely miss injured slugger Matt Kemp .
Los Angeles has dropped seven of eight on a nine-game California road trip that concludes Wednesday against the Giants, getting outscored 35-13 in the process.
"You get shut out a couple days and there's frustration," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "That's natural. It's my job to make sure we keep going."
Kershaw had won six straight decisions against the Giants, allowing earned runs in just two of those seven outings before falling 2-1 at home on May 8 when Brett Pill hit a two-run homer and Vogelsong shut down the Dodgers for 7 1-3 innings.
San Francisco used a similar formula to get to the reigning NL Cy Young winner in this game with Cabrera providing the power and Vogelsong once again delivering a stellar start.
"I feel like I have something to prove every game," Vogelsong said. "Just because I came out on the right side in two games with him that doesn't change. But it's definitely a step in the right direction."
As stingy as Kershaw has been in his career in San Francisco, Vogelsong has been almost as tough. He allowed seven hits and lowered his home ERA to 1.85 in his two seasons with the Giants, second to only to the Angels' Jered Weaver (1.55) in that span.
Jeremy Affeldt pitched a perfect eighth and Santiago Casilla finished for his 21st save in 23 chances.
Kershaw had struck out four in setting down the Giants for the first three innings. That all started to change on the second pitch of the fourth inning when Cabrera sent a drive that just cleared the wall in left-center for the first homer Kershaw had allowed in seven appearances in San Francisco.
The Giants didn't stop there, getting three more hits in the inning with Sandoval adding an RBI single before Kershaw escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Vogelsong and Gregor Blanco to end the inning.
"Tonight I blinked first and it cost us," Kershaw said. "I think we are frustrated but we have to take that anger and aggression to the field and keep coming every day. It doesn't matter who we're playing if we're not winning games. We just have to start playing better baseball."
Kershaw pitched out of trouble again in the fifth, surviving a line drive off his leg by Buster Posey , but it turned out not to matter the way Vogelsong handled the Dodgers hitters.
"We figured this would be a low-scoring game," Bochy said. "We found a way to get a couple of runs against a pitcher who has been hard on us. That's the only way we beat him a couple of times. Score a couple of runs and get a well-pitched game."
NOTES: Dave Dravecky and Mike LaCoss shut out the Dodgers on consecutive days in San Francisco in 1987, with LaCoss going 10 innings for his 1-0 win on Aug. 16. ... The Giants had consecutive shutouts against the Dodgers in Los Angeles in April 2002. ... Giants RHP Matt Cain gave his cap, spikes, a ball and other memorabilia from his perfect game on June 13 to the Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. He was also given a key to the city by Mayor Ed Lee, who declared that June 13 will now be "Matt Cain Day" in San Francisco. ... RHP Tim Lincecum (2-8) looks to snap a 10-start winless streak when he takes the mound for San Francisco in the series finale Wednesday against RHP Chad Billingsley (4-6).