With Clayton Kershaw leading the way, an outstanding stretch by Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers has been one of the keys to their historic turnaround.
Kershaw looks to continue his recent dominance and help the visiting Dodgers take three of four from the Miami Marlins in Thursday's series finale.
Zack Greinke was the latest Dodgers starter to shine as he allowed one run over eight innings in a 4-1 victory Wednesday. The rotation has a major league-best 2.58 ERA during its remarkable 44-10 run that has carried Los Angeles (74-52) to the top of the NL West.
Having bounced back after losing two in a row for the first time since June 20-21, Los Angeles has a chance to win its third straight to close out this set behind Kershaw (12-7, 1.80 ERA).
"Kersh is on such another level that if you try to do better than him, you're going to get your feelings hurt,' said Greinke, who matched Kershaw and rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu with his 12th victory.
Kershaw leads the major leagues in ERA and innings pitched (190 1-3), and is second in the NL with 182 strikeouts. He's also been a major contributor in the team's surge, going 7-2 with a 1.40 ERA while limiting opponents to a .159 batting average over his last 10 outings.
The All-Star left-hander fanned eight and gave up three hits over eight innings in a 5-0 win at Philadelphia on Saturday.
"One thing he does is he attacks the strike zone just pitch after pitch,' manager Don Mattingly said. "He's going to be around it and he's going to make you hit him, and it's not like he's going to waste a lot of pitches.'
Kershaw has been sharp versus the Marlins (48-77), posting a 1.54 ERA with 25 strikeouts over 23 1-3 innings while winning his last three starts.
Giancarlo Stanton homered off Kershaw the last time they met on Aug. 25, 2012, and is hitting .385 with five home runs in his last six games against the Dodgers.
Stanton accounted for the only run Wednesday with a first-inning homer, but Miami's defense has also contributed to its series woes with five errors in the last two games. The Marlins committed a season-high three errors Wednesday, two coming in the Dodgers' three-run fourth.
"We can't make a lot of mistakes, especially against such a good team," manager Mike Redmond said.
Miami hopes to avoid its fifth loss in seven games by giving the ball to right-hander Henderson Alvarez (2-2, 3.41), who looks to earn his first victory since July 31.
Since going 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last four July starts, Alvarez is 0-1 with a 4.95 ERA in three August outings - all Miami losses. He allowed four walks and four runs over seven innings in a 6-4 loss to San Francisco on Saturday.
Alvarez has never faced the Dodgers, though Adrian Gonzalez went 5 for 13 with a home run and five RBIs in this matchup when the two played in the AL.
Juan Uribe is expected to return to the lineup after being used as a pinch-hitter and late defensive replacement. The red-hot third baseman is 18 for 37 over his last 12 games overall and 10 for 15 in his last seven against the Marlins.
Yasiel Puig appeared to tweak his lower left leg Wednesday and limped slightly at times but stayed in the game. He's 4 for 30 over his last seven contests.
The Associated Press News Service
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