The Los Angeles Dodgers own the best rotation in baseball, and a lot of the credit goes to ace Clayton Kershaw.
As long as he’s been on the mound at Dodger Stadium, Dan Haren’s been pretty good himself.
After Kershaw’s incredible scoreless streak ended in his latest gem, Haren will try to build on his success at Chavez Ravine and lead the Dodgers to another win over the San Diego Padres on Friday night.
Los Angeles (52-42) is atop the NL West by one game on second-place San Francisco. Superb pitching from the starters is a reason for the Dodgers’ slight edge, compiling a major league-low 3.10 ERA – 1.64 while going 8-3 in their last 11 home games.
Kershaw continues to be perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, ranking among the leaders in wins (11) and strikeouts (127) despite missing all of April with a back injury. He was superb again Thursday, opening this four-game set with a three-hitter in a 2-1 win over San Diego (40-52).
Kershaw gave up that run on a homer by Chase Headley, ending his 41-inning scoreless stretch that tied Luis Tiant for the fifth-longest since 1961.
Haren (8-5, 4.06 ERA) will try to draw some inspiration from Kershaw, but he’s 4-5 in 12 starts that have come after the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
"The starting pitching here is held to a higher standard, and at this point in my career, I’m not eight innings and no runs anymore," Haren told MLB’s official website. "For the most part, I keep us in the game. But it’s tough to keep up. (Kershaw and Zack Greinke are) pretty unbelievable.
"It’s tough to hold up my end of the bargain."
Haren certainly didn’t do that Saturday, when he was hammered for a season-high eight runs and 10 hits – two homers – with eight strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-7 loss at Colorado. That came five days after the right-hander allowed one hit in seven innings of a 1-0 home victory over Cleveland.
Despite owning the highest ERA of any regular member of the Dodgers’ rotation, Haren is 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA in eight starts at Chavez Ravine.
He’s facing the Padres there for the first time, but he’s 1-3 with a 6.04 ERA over his last five starts against them – all in San Diego. He allowed three runs – two on a pair of solo homers to Seth Smith – in 5 2-3 innings while not getting a decision in a 6-5 loss June 20.
The Padres have dropped five of six games, and will send rookie Jesse Hahn (4-2, 2.34) to the mound against the Dodgers for the first time. He’s looking to get off to a better start after losing for the first time since his major league debut against Pittsburgh on June 3.
The right-hander gave up three runs and five hits over the first three innings Sunday, but rebounded by retiring 11 straight batters and leaving after the seventh of a 5-3 loss to San Francisco. He had won each of his previous four outings behind a 0.75 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 24 innings.
"The second half of his outing was outstanding," manager Bud Black said. "I was really impressed with how Jesse hung in there."
Hahn has won both of his road starts while allowing two runs with 15 strikeouts in 12 innings.
He’ll likely have to contend with Yasiel Puig, who is hitting .356 in his past 12 home games. The right fielder is 12 for 29 with three homers, three doubles and seven RBIs in seven meetings there with San Diego.