Cubs-Dodgers Preview

After Zack Greinke’s performance in the series opener

exemplified how the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation is among

the best in the majors, Clayton Kershaw will look to provide an

encore.

Kershaw takes the mound for the NL West leaders Tuesday night at

Dodger Stadium as they look to win a ninth straight meeting with

the Chicago Cubs for the first time in franchise history.

The Dodgers’ rotation has a baseball-best 3.13 ERA after Greinke

came within one out of recording his fifth career shutout in

Monday’s 6-2 win. He also added an RBI single for Los Angeles

(77-54), which matched its club-record winning streak against

Chicago set from June 9, 1974-May 19, 1975.

“Pitching is like the business and hitting is more the fun

part,” Greinke said.

The Dodgers shined offensively, too, as Hanley Ramirez and

Yasiel Puig, who had three hits, homered to help them remain 9 1/2

games ahead of second-place Arizona in the West.

Los Angeles scored just five runs while dropping two of three to

Boston over the weekend.

“Zack throwing zeros early gives us a chance to shake out the

cobwebs from the last series,” manager Don Mattingly said

Kershaw (13-7, 1.72 ERA) has tossed up plenty of zeros while

leading the majors in ERA. He’s in position to join Lefty Grove

(1929-31) and Greg Maddux (1993-95) as the only pitchers since 1901

to finish at the top of that category in three straight

seasons.

The left-hander has pitched eight innings in five of his last

six starts, going 4-1 with a 0.78 ERA. He has won three straight

outings and threw eight scoreless innings in each of the last two,

including Thursday’s 6-0 win at Miami.

“He keeps coming after people,” Mattingly said. “He raises the

bar pretty high pretty much every time out. He has a rough inning

or two and we worry about (how he will react mentally). He sets the

bar high, but that’s okay.”

Kershaw has been great against the Cubs in his career as well,

going 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts. Starlin Castro is 0 for

13 against him.

Chicago (55-76), which has dropped six of seven, had only three

hits through eight innings Monday before Brian Bogusevic’s two-run

double with two outs on Greinke’s final pitch.

“We really didn’t muster up a whole lot until that last inning,”

said manager Dale Sveum, whose club has hit .175 with runners in

scoring position over the last 14 games.

Chicago likely won’t have it any easier against Kershaw as it

looks to end the skid against the Dodgers with help from Travis

Wood, who is 1-2 with a 7.65 ERA in four career starts versus Los

Angeles.

Wood (7-10, 3.22) is 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA in his last five

outings overall, a stretch that began when he allowed five runs and

seven hits while walking five in a season-low 3 1-3 innings of a

6-2 loss to the Dodgers on Aug. 2.

The left-hander allowed four runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-4,

13-inning loss to Washington on Thursday.

The Cubs have lost four straight at Dodger Stadium.