Kershaw, Dodgers try to avoid sweep vs. Phillies

Clayton Kershaw has never defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in seven career starts against them.

With how poorly the Phillies have supported Cliff Lee this season, tonight could be the night Kershaw tastes victory in this series. The Dodgers' reigning NL Cy Young Award winner draws the start Wednesday afternoon in the finale of a three-game series at Chavez Ravine and has won three of his last five decisions.

Kershaw earned his seventh win (7-5) of the season in Friday's 2-1 victory over San Diego and held the rival Padres to a run and six hits in six innings of work with six strikeouts. He has fanned that many batters in seven consecutive outings and rebounded from a poor start on July 6 at Arizona.

The left-hander, who has made 19 starts this season with a 2.84 ERA, did not record a decision in a 4-3 win over Philadelphia on June 4, when he held the hosts to three runs over seven innings. In his career against the Phillies, Kershaw is 0-4 with a 4.95 ERA. Philadelphia is one of three NL teams that Kershaw doesn't have a victory against (Pittsburgh, Atlanta).

Lee isn't enjoying such a productive season and his record is more than proof. The left-hander gets the call this afternoon for the Phillies and will make his 16th start of the season. He earned his first win on July 4 in a 9-2 road win over the New York Mets, then reverted back to his losing ways in Friday's 6-2 setback at Colorado.

Lee allowed three runs, two of which were earned, and nine hits in six innings of a 6-2 defeat. The loss dropped him to 1-6 in 15 starts to go along with a pedestrian 3.92 earned run average. Lee lost to the Dodgers back on June 5 in a 2-1 home loss, allowing both runs in 7 2/3 frames with 12 K's, and is 2-1 with a sparkling 0.90 ERA in four career starts in this series.

The Phillies are in position for their first three-game sweep of the season after taking the initial two contests against the Dodgers. They swept consecutive two-game sets against Houston and the Chicago Cubs from May 14-17 and welcomed back ace Roy Halladay in Tuesday's second straight 3-2 win.

Halladay had been sidelined since late May because of a shoulder issue and tossed five innings of two-run ball with six K's and no walks in the no- decision. The right-hander was on a pitch count, throwing 80 balls, 55 of which were strikes.

"I felt good. Things improved from my rehab starts," Halladay said. "I wanted to go more than five innings. It's a matter of repeating my mechanics, timing and trying to make pitches. I feel like I can contribute and give us a chance."

Kyle Kendrick picked up the win in relief and Jonathan Papelbon nailed down his 21st save with a strikeout in the ninth, helping the Phillies secure their fourth win in a row. Hunter Pence had two hits and two RBI, while Chase Utley was credited with the other RBI for Philadelphia, which is still last in the NL East at 13 games off the pace, but is now just 10 games under .500.

The Phillies will head home after today's game for a six-game residency versus San Francisco and Milwaukee. They won a season-high six straight games from May 13-18.

Los Angeles has hit the skids again, losing four straight and seven of eight to fall three games behind San Francisco for the NL West lead.

The Dodgers were strapped with starting pitchers last night and gave Stephen Fife his first major league start, which went very well. Fife held the Phillies to a run and four hits in six innings, but walked three batters and struck out one. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was pleased with the righty.

"Stephen pitched well. He gave up a run early and then settled in," Mattingly said. "He changed speeds and kept battling. He kept us right there. We just have to regroup, try to make improvements and keep going."

Ronald Belisario was saddled with the loss for giving up two runs in relief.

James Loney and Luis Cruz each singled in runs during the second inning for the Dodgers, who will begin a lengthy 10-game road trip against the Mets, Cardinals and Giants following Wednesday's matinee.

Los Angeles swept a four-game set in Philadelphia from June 4-7 this season. No team in this 2012 series has won as the host.