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Dodgers aim to match best start in 31 years in finale with Padres

The Los Angeles Dodgers can match their best start in 31 years this afternoon when they try to complete a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers improved to an MLB-best 8-1 on Saturday, as Matt Kemp hit a pair of two-run home runs to help Los Angeles spoil the major league debut of Padres prospect Joe Wieland with a 6-1 win.

"I'm just thinking, 'Hit the ball up the middle, and get good pitches to hit,'" said Kemp. "It's a great feeling when the crowd is yelling when you're rounding the bases. As a team, we're playing great."

Kemp finished 3-for-4 and Andre Ethier contributed a solo homer for the red- hot Dodgers, who have won five in a row and are off to their best start since 1981 when they began 9-1, on the way to the franchise's fifth World Series title.

Wieland (0-1) gave up six runs, all in the first two innings. His complete line included six hits, two walks and one strikeout in five full innings.

"I would have liked for better results, but I battled back. Once I got those jitters out of the way, I was fine," Wieland said. "My pitches to Matt [Kemp] were up, and he showed why he's one of the best hitters in the league. After my first-game jitters were gone, I was able to hit my spots."

Ted Lilly (1-0) tossed seven frames, allowing just one unearned run on two hits and one walk while striking out four in his first start of the year. Lilly began the season on the disabled list because of neck stiffness.

It won't get any easier for the Padres today against reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who is still searching for his first win of the season.

After an illness allowed him to pitch just three innings of his season debut in San Diego, Kershaw received a no-decision on Tuesday against Pittsburgh, but was terrific, as he surrendered a run and four hits in seven innings. He also struck out seven without walking a batter in his team's 2-1 win.

"Today was the first day I felt normal," said Kershaw. "I got out of the first inning and Opening Day jitters and then got out of the second inning with a guy on third. But my stuff got worse as the game went on, which comes from only throwing three innings last time and not getting my pitch count up."

Kershaw gave up just two hits and did not allow a run in that three-inning outing against the Padres on Opening Day and is 7-3 lifetime against them with a 2.24 ERA in 14 starts.

The Padres will counter with righty Edinson Volquez, who is 0-1 through two starts with a 3.00 ERA. After losing to the Dodgers in his first start Volquez received a no-decision on Tuesday against Arizona, but pitched well, yielding two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 4-2 loss.

"I thought his stuff was great ... good fastball, good curveball, a nice three-pitch mix," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "Seven innings and two runs? If he does that, he's going to win a few games."

The Dodgers have won 14 of their past 17 versus the Padres, including the last eight.

On this the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier Major League Baseball is commemorating this special occasion by having all players and on-field personnel once again wear the Hall of Famer's No. 42.

Don Newcombe and Tommy Davis, both former teammates of Robinson, will throw out ceremonial first pitches as part of the pre-game festivities.