While Clayton Kershaw attempts to continue his dominance, Atlanta’s Julio Teheran hopes for a better performance than the only other time he faced the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In a matchup of All-Stars on Thursday night, Kershaw looks for a 10th straight win as the NL-best Dodgers seek a sixth consecutive victory and first home sweep of at least three games over the Braves in 24 years.
Kershaw (12-2, 1.76 ERA) has allowed eight runs, including six on four homers, while striking out 95 and walking eight in 77 innings to go 9-0 in his last 10 starts. He has 39 strikeouts in his last three outings at Dodger Stadium.
"We’re experiencing and witnessing something historic, and being on the receiving end of it is humbling," catcher A.J. Ellis told MLB’s official website.
The majors’ ERA leader recorded his second complete game in three starts and NL-best fourth of the season Saturday, allowing three hits in a 5-0 win at San Francisco.
"It’s fun to win," said the left-hander, who can match St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright and Detroit’s Max Scherzer for the major league lead in wins.
"I’m happy now but if I lose the next time out I won’t be happy."
Kershaw is facing the only NL team he’s never beaten during the regular season, going without a decision in four such starts versus Atlanta with a 2.45 ERA. The last of those games came in 2011, but he shut down the Braves twice in last year’s NL division series as he won Game 1 and helped Los Angeles close them out in Game 4. He allowed a combined three runs – one earned – and six hits with 18 strikeouts in 13 innings.
Teheran (10-6, 2.71) was roughed up for six runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings of Atlanta’s 13-6 loss in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.
While Kershaw has long been the Dodgers’ ace, Teheran has turned into one for Atlanta. The right-hander, among the NL’s top 10 in ERA and opponent batting average (.227), has given up no more than three runs and lasted at least seven innings in six of his past eight starts.
In two outings since the All-Star break, Teheran struck out a season-high 11 in seven innings of a 3-1, 10-inning loss to Miami on July 21 before beating San Diego on Saturday as he gave up three runs in six innings of a 5-3 win.
Atlanta (58-50) hasn’t been swept in a series of at least three games at Dodger Stadium since losing four there July 26-29, 1990.
Matt Kemp homered and drove home the winning run in the 10th of Los Angeles’ 3-2 victory Wednesday. The Dodgers’ five-game winning streak is their longest since taking six in a row Aug. 28-Sept. 3.
The subject of trade rumors that general manager Ned Colletti has denied, Kemp has three homers in the first two games of this set and is batting .486 with 11 RBIs in his last nine.
"Boy, is he locked in right now," Atlanta starter Alex Wood said.
Justin Upton had three hits and the tying homer in the ninth for Atlanta, which dropped 1 1/2 games behind first-place Washington in the East but is tied with San Francisco for the wild-card lead.
Much like the Dodgers (61-47), the Braves appear content with their current state at the trade deadline.
"You always want to improve, but you never want to take away from your own club if you can (avoid it)," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Upton is 3 for 34 with 10 strikeouts versus Kershaw during the regular season and playoffs while Jason Heyward has gone 0 for 10 with seven strikeouts. Heyward, though, could miss a third straight game with a sore back.