For all the negatives associated with following an impressive act, pitching right after Clayton Kershaw in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation means Dan Haren rarely has a team losing streak on his mind.
That’ll again be the case Monday night when Haren and the Dodgers host the Cleveland Indians looking for a third straight win and sole possession of first place in the NL West.
Los Angeles (47-37) caught slumping San Francisco with Sunday’s 6-0 victory over St. Louis, giving it victories in 10 of 13 to overcome a hole that was 9 1/2 games June 8.
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"When we were struggling early, I think everyone knew in the back of their minds that we could turn it around," Kershaw said. "Coming back and tying up the Giants in a month is not something we expected, just like we didn’t expect to go 42-8 last year, but we have that ability."
Ten of Haren’s 16 starts have followed Kershaw’s, and this one marks six straight with an opportunity to string together wins for Los Angeles. Haren (7-4, 3.83 ERA) and the Dodgers have gone 3-2 in the first five of those games.
The right-hander is 2-0 in his last four starts, though his 4.98 ERA in those outings leaves plenty of room for improvement.
In Wednesday’s 5-4 win in Kansas City, Haren allowed four runs in 4 1-3 innings for his shortest outing of the season. After making it through at least six innings in 11 of his first 12 starts, he’s failed to do so in three of four.
"I’ll be better, I’m confident," Haren told MLB’s official website. "I’m healthy, but the results haven’t shown. I’ll get back to pitching the way I was the first month. I’m confident I can do that."
His control hasn’t wavered much with two or fewer walks in 10 straight starts. Dodgers starters have walked two or fewer batters in 33 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in a century behind Minnesota’s 36-game stretch in 2005.
Haren is 4-3 with a 3.82 ERA in 12 starts against Cleveland. David Murphy, in a 1-for-39 slump, is 9 for 24 with two home runs off him. Asdrubal Cabrera is 2 for 23 in the matchup and Carlos Santana 1 for 12.
Haren will be opposed by Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.09), who was strong in his last outing, allowing four hits while striking out eight in seven scoreless innings of a 6-1 win at Arizona on Wednesday.
The right-hander has won all six career starts against the NL with a 2.29 ERA.
The Indians (39-42) have won eight of his last 10 starts, and Kluber hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs since his first outing of the year.
"I don’t think there’s been much of a difference in the way I’ve pitched … " Kluber said. "It’s been a pitch here or there, but it’s about being consistent."
Cleveland has lost 11 of 17, falling 3-0 at Seattle on Sunday. The Indians managed one hit and finished with seven runs and a .165 average in the three-game series.
Cleveland has dropped 29 of its last 41 on the road in interleague play while the Dodgers have won 16 of the previous 24 against the AL.
Los Angeles will be without third baseman Justin Turner, who landed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a hamstring strain. Hanley Ramirez is day to day with a tight calf.