Dodgers-Blue Jays Preview
The last time Clayton Kershaw took the mound he ended the Los Angeles Dodgers' slide with one of the most dominant efforts his manager had ever seen.
Now the left-handed ace will be tasked with snapping another losing streak Saturday when he faces the suddenly surging Toronto Blue Jays for the first time.
Even though Los Angeles (14-15) had totaled 11 runs while hitting .175 during a six-game losing streak, those offensive struggles made no difference to the three-time NL Cy Young award winner heading into Sunday's outing versus San Diego.
Kershaw took over the game with an RBI single and a season-high 14 strikeouts while completing a three-hitter in a 1-0 victory. All three hits allowed were singles and only two of the 27 outs he recorded reached the outfield in his 13th career shutout.
"That's as dominant as I've seen him," manager Dave Roberts told MLB's official website. "As prepared and as much conviction as he has every fifth day, knowing what we were going through as a team, you talk about great players putting their team on their backs. He won't say that, but that's exactly what happened."
Kershaw (3-1, 1.96 ERA) would like to do it again as Los Angeles looks to avoid its third straight loss and ninth in 11 games. The Dodgers couldn't capitalize on their 10 hits Friday in a 5-2 loss in the opener of this three-game series at Rogers Centre.
Kershaw has never faced the Blue Jays, though he's 2-0 with an 0.95 ERA with 40 strikeouts over his last five interleague road outings. Troy Tulowitzki has seen him the most of any Toronto player, hitting .270 with three homers in 63 at-bats.
The star shortstop, however, has gone 3 for 33 over his last nine games.
Jose Bautista hit a two-run homer Friday before Kevin Pillar provided a go-ahead three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning in the team's season-high fourth straight win. Pillar is batting .396 with two homers over his last 13 games.
"Naturally, you try to do too much. I think I got caught up in that the swing before," said Pillar, who hit a 1-2 pitch into the left field bullpen. "Just had to gather myself and do what I've been doing, just try to hit the ball hard."
Drew picked up the save for the Blue Jays because closer Roberto Osuna was sidelined with a sore groin. Osuna is expected to be available Saturday.
Right-hander R.A. Dickey (1-3, 5.73) hopes to add to a stretch on the mound in which Toronto (16-15) had posted a 1.80 ERA while winning five of its last six games.
After allowing 13 runs over 11 innings in his previous two home starts, the knuckleballer surrendered only one over 6 1/3 in Monday's 2-1 loss to Texas.
Dickey hasn't faced the Dodgers since 2012, though Carl Crawford is 3 for 7 with a home run off him and Chase Utley has gone 5 for 16 with two doubles.
Crawford, Utley, Joc Pederson and Justin Turner had two hits apiece Friday. Turner has been a bright spot with five hits in 12 at-bats over his last three games.
Roberts said Crawford would serve as the team's designated hitter Saturday with regular first baseman Adrian Gonzalez sliding into the role Sunday.