Dodgers-Padres pitching matchup looks like mismatch

LOS ANGELES — As pitching matchups go, it would be hard to tilt the scales any more in one direction than they will be when the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers meet Saturday evening in Los Angeles.

The Padres will go with right-hander Brett Kennedy and his three career starts. The Dodgers will counter with Clayton Kershaw and his three Cy Young Awards.

Kennedy (0-2, 8.36 ERA) has yet to win his first major league game, although he finally looks to be getting comfortable with his surroundings. After getting crushed for a combined 11 runs on 20 hits over his first two big league starts, Kennedy held the Arizona Diamondbacks to two runs on six hits over five innings Sunday.

Without a blazing fastball to work with, Kennedy has to rely on pinpoint control. Even though he was better in his start against the Diamondbacks, he did issue three walks. He will now face a Dodgers team that typically is disciplined when it comes to the strike zone.

“He definitely threw the ball better; I thought his secondary stuff was better last time out,” Padres manager Andy Green said about Kennedy. “(The Dodgers) team will be a real challenge for him. They will load (the lineup) down with lefties and he’s going to have to execute to pitch well against them. I look forward to him rising up to meet that challenge, but it takes a while for some guys to get their footing in the big leagues and he’s starting to find it.”

Pitching opposite Kershaw could present an intimidation factor, although Kennedy already has dealt with pitching against an ace. Zack Greinke was the Diamondbacks’ pitcher when Kennedy last took the mound.

Meeting Kershaw at Dodger Stadium, though, is a different level entirely. And Kershaw (6-5, 2.40) has been as good as ever lately, going unbeaten over his last five starts with a 1.82 ERA over 34 2/3 innings in that stretch.

Kershaw last lost a game on July 21, and even then he gave up just one earned run. The defense let him down to the tune of three unearned runs that day against the Brewers. Since June 23, when Kershaw returned from his second stint on the disabled list, he is 5-1 with a 2.14 ERA.

Add to the mix an increased sense of urgency from Kershaw and the Padres figure to be in a tough spot Saturday.

“I don’t know how many games we’ve got left, but it’s now or never,” Kershaw said, according to mlb.com. “We better start playing, we better get good.”

Kershaw is 18-6 with a 1.89 ERA in 33 career starts against San Diego, and he pitched six scoreless innings in his only start against the Padres this season.

The Dodgers’ inconsistent offense roared back to life Friday in an 11-1 victory over the Padres, with Chris Taylor, Justin Turner and Max Muncy hitting home runs. Muncy moved one home run away from No. 30 on the season.

The victory helped the Dodgers gain a game on the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks as they moved 3 1/2 games out of the division’s top spot. The Dodgers also moved 2 1/2 games behind the second-place Colorado Rockies.