Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw has mostly been superb for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he didn’t look anything like one of the game’s best pitchers against the Arizona Diamondbacks last month.
Looking to avenge one of the ugliest outings of his career, Kershaw again squares off with unbeaten rookie Chase Anderson in Friday night’s series opener at Chavez Ravine.
Kershaw (5-2, 3.17 ERA) is trying to win a third consecutive start after going all five innings in Sunday’s rain-shortened 6-1 victory at Colorado. The left-hander has gone 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his last four outings spanning 26 innings while striking out nine in each.
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"Teams that I’ve coached and played on, I don’t think we had anybody quite like him," manager Don Mattingly said. "I’ve seen some pretty good guys in (Mike) Mussina and (Andy) Pettitte, but not quite the same as Clayton."
Kershaw now turns his attention back to the Diamondbacks (29-40), who chased him with two outs in the second inning in an 18-7 rout May 17. The three-time All-Star allowed seven runs in the second-shortest start of his career.
"I just got hit hard. I don’t know why," he said afterward. "I left some balls up. They got hits. You can’t really make excuses saying they found holes."
Kershaw has gone 1-5 with a 3.75 ERA during an eight-start stretch against Arizona while receiving a combined 10 runs of support. However, he is 4-1 with a 1.49 ERA in nine home outings in the series.
Kershaw has overpowered Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero, who are a combined 11 for 54 with 21 strikeouts in their matchups. Martin Prado is 4 for 27.
Anderson (5-0, 3.14) allowed five runs over 5 1-3 innings opposite Kershaw last month, but he’s posted a 1.93 ERA in his other four outings. The right-hander struck out a season-high eight over seven innings of two-run ball to beat Atlanta 6-5 on Sunday.
Anderson, who has been backed by an average of 9.73 runs of support, is looking to become the first rookie to win his first six starts since Jered Weaver opened 7-0 with the Angels in 2006.
"Words don’t describe that, just going 1-0, 2-0," he said. "Each time I go out there I’m just trying to give the team a chance to win … 5-0 feels amazing."
The Dodgers (35-33) return home in high spirits despite closing a 4-3 trek with back-to-back losses at Cincinnati. Los Angeles fell 5-0 on Wednesday before Matt Kemp drove in the team’s lone run in Thursday’s 4-1 defeat.
"We played pretty well this trip," Mattingly said. "Basically you play at .500 or a little above on the road, you’re going to feel pretty good about it.
"Up to this point, we haven’t been able to make hay at home. That’s the thing that has to change for us. We’ve got to play better at home."
Los Angeles has hit .204 in dropping six of eight at Dodger Stadium. At 13-19, the Dodgers own baseball’s second-worst home record ahead of only Arizona’s 12-24 mark.
The Diamondbacks went 1-3 in a home-and-home series against Houston after losing both road meetings. Goldschmidt doubled twice in four at-bats but Arizona went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position during Thursday’s 5-4, 10-inning defeat.
Goldschmidt is batting .394 with eight extra-base hits – three homers – and 10 RBIs over the last nine games.
Los Angeles has taken eight of 11 from the Diamondbacks this year. Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez is expected to sit out again with a sore shoulder.