Kershaw looks to continue his recent dominance and help the visiting Dodgers take three of four from the Miami Marlins in Thursday's series finale.
Zack Greinke was the latest Dodgers starter to shine as he allowed one run over eight innings in a 4-1 victory Wednesday. The rotation has a major league-best 2.58 ERA during its remarkable 44-10 run that has carried Los Angeles (74-52) to the top of the NL West.
Having bounced back after losing two in a row for the first time since June 20-21, Los Angeles has a chance to win its third straight to close out this set behind Kershaw (12-7, 1.80 ERA)."Kersh is on such another level that if you try to do better than him, you're going to get your feelings hurt," said Greinke, who matched Kershaw and rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu with his 12th victory.
Kershaw leads the major leagues in ERA and innings pitched (190 1-3), and is second in the NL with 182 strikeouts. He's also been a major contributor in the team's surge, going 7-2 with a 1.40 ERA while limiting opponents to a .159 batting average over his last 10 outings.
The All-Star left-hander fanned eight and gave up three hits over eight innings in a 5-0 win at Philadelphia on Saturday."One thing he does is he attacks the strike zone just pitch after pitch," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's going to be around it and he's going to make you hit him, and it's not like he's going to waste a lot of pitches."
Kershaw has been sharp versus the Marlins (48-77), posting a 1.54 ERA with 25 strikeouts over 23 1-3 innings while winning his last three starts.
Giancarlo Stanton homered off Kershaw the last time they met on Aug. 25, 2012, and is hitting .385 with five home runs in his last six games against the Dodgers.
Stanton accounted for the only run Wednesday with a first-inning homer, but Miami's defense has also contributed to its series woes with five errors in the last two games. The Marlins committed a season-high three errors Wednesday, two coming in the Dodgers' three-run fourth.
"We can't make a lot of mistakes, especially against such a good team," manager Mike Redmond said.
Miami hopes to avoid its fifth loss in seven games by giving the ball to right-hander Henderson Alvarez (2-2, 3.41), who looks to earn his first victory since July 31.
Since going 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last four July starts, Alvarez is 0-1 with a 4.95 ERA in three August outings - all Miami losses. He allowed four walks and four runs over seven innings in a 6-4 loss to San Francisco on Saturday.
Alvarez has never faced the Dodgers, though Adrian Gonzalez went 5 for 13 with a home run and five RBIs in this matchup when the two played in the AL.
Juan Uribe is expected to return to the lineup after being used as a pinch-hitter and late defensive replacement. The red-hot third baseman is 18 for 37 over his last 12 games overall and 10 for 15 in his last seven against the Marlins.
Yasiel Puig appeared to tweak his lower left leg Wednesday and limped slightly at times but stayed in the game. He's 4 for 30 over his last seven contests.
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|August 04, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Jammed right shoulder|
|August 03, 2013||Yasiel Puig||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|July 30, 2013||Brian Wilson||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|July 30, 2013||Brian Wilson||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|July 23, 2013||Jose Dominguez||15-Day DL||Left quad strain|
|July 22, 2013||Matt Kemp||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|August 19, 2013||Placido Polanco||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 26, 2013||Kevin Slowey||15-Day DL||Right forearm discomfort|
|July 23, 2013||Marcell Ozuna||60-Day DL||Torn left thumb ligament|
|June 25, 2013||Justin Ruggiano||Day-to-Day||Sore left shoulder|
|June 09, 2013||Casey Kotchman||60-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 09, 2013||Chris Coghlan||15-Day DL||Right calf irritation|
MIAMI (AP) -- Pitching with a big lead in the eighth inning, Clayton Kershaw bounced a curve in the dirt, then spun in disgust and kicked the mound as if he had just lost the game.
Kershaw is unaccustomed even to one-pitch lapses, and he overcame the occasional difficulty he had Thursday, pitching eight innings to help the Los Angeles Dodgers win their third game in a row by beating the Miami Marlins 6-0.
Kershaw (13-7) allowed five hits and lowered his ERA to 1.72, best in the majors. Miami's leadoff batter reached in five innings against the left-hander, but the Marlins hit into three double plays and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
By Kershaw's standards, that made it a subpar effort.
"I was terrible the first couple of innings. I didn't have command," he said. "It could have gone a lot differently. The game could have been out of hand pretty quick."
Kershaw walked Christian Yelich to start the game, and the first two batters reached against him in the second inning. But the Marlins rank last in runs and hitting for a reason, and Kershaw is a Cy Young Award contender for a reason.
"I've seen him a lot better," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "He looked like his command was not there with his fastball, but whenever we did get in a situation with a guy on, he executed his pitches and was able to keep us at bay."
Former All-Star closer Brian Wilson made his first major-league appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery and pitched the ninth for Los Angeles, allowing one hit and striking out two. The game was his first since April 2012.
"It was long overdue, a very arduous process, but I'm glad I went through it so I could appreciate baseball even more," Wilson said. "I felt comfortable. I felt like I hadn't skipped a beat."
Wilson completed the Dodgers' 17th shutout, most in the majors. Miami was shut out for the 15th time.
The Dodgers (75-52) climbed 23 games above .500 for the first time since 2009. They went 5-2 on their two-city trip and have won 22 of their past 25 road games.
"We've got the perfect mix right now - great starting pitching, timely hitting and a lockdown bullpen," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "It creates a lot of wins."
They improved to 28-5 since the All-Star break and begin a series at home Friday against AL East leader Boston.
Los Angeles' Yasiel Puig hit a double that struck the center-field wall above the 418-foot sign, scored a run and had a sacrifice fly. But he finished only 2 for 15 in the series, dropping his average to .346.
Puig was hit by a pitch in the upper left arm in the ninth but stayed in the game. He became dehydrated during Wednesday's game, limped at times and received intravenous fluids afterward.
Kershaw broke a scoreless tie when he hit a two-out single in the fourth to drive in the first of the Dodgers' three runs in the inning. He's tied for the major-league lead among pitchers with eight RBIs.
That was the only run Los Angeles needed, thanks to his pitching. He struck out six, including Yelich three times.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the game for a reason," the rookie said. "I found out that today pretty quick."
Henderson Alvarez (2-3) went five innings and allowed five runs, all of them scoring with two outs.
Puig barely missed a home run leading off the fourth inning, when his drive struck a foot below the edge of the wall for a double.
"It's almost not fair to hit a ball that far and it doesn't go out," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said with a smile.
With two out Alvarez pitched around Juan Uribe , walking him to load the bases, but the tactic backfired when Kershaw hit an RBI single. Carl Crawford followed with a two-run double for a 3-0 lead.
The Dodgers scored again in the fifth on back-to-back two-out doubles by Andre Ethier and Ellis, followed by Skip Schumaker 's RBI single.
Notes: Hanley Ramirez was given the day off, and Nick Punto made his 25th start at SS for the Dodgers. Said Mattingly of the 5-foot-9 Punto still playing the position at age 35: "Chihuahuas live longer than big dogs." ... Dodgers RHP Ricky Nolasco , scheduled to pitch Friday, is 1-2 with an 8.16 ERA in three starts against Boston. ... Miami's Giancarlo Stanton had a double and is batting .316 with 13 homers at home. On the road he is batting .184 with three homers.