Left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Barry Zito are set to square off at AT&T Park on Friday, as the San Francisco Giants entertain the Los Angeles Dodgers for the opener of a three-game series between National League West foes.
Kershaw flew home to Texas earlier this week to mourn the death of his father. The southpaw would certainly like to have a repeat of his Opening Day start against San Francisco, when he hurled a four-hit shutout and helped himself at the plate by hitting his first big league home run. In 18 career outings against the Giants, Kershaw has posted a 9-4 record with a minuscule 1.28 ERA.
The 2011 NL Cy Young winner has a 1.73 ERA in six starts this season, and he is coming off another solid start against Milwaukee on Sunday. Kershaw tossed eight shutout innings against the Brewers and allowed only four hits while striking out 12 and walking nobody.
Zito has been mostly impressive so far this season but has also had a couple of bumps along the way. Zito, who turns 35 in 10 days, has thrown seven shutout innings in three of his starts. However, he also let up nine runs at Milwaukee on April 16.
In his last outing, Zito was cruising along through three innings at San Diego on Saturday but never got past the fourth, as the Padres tagged him for six runs (five unearned).
His teammates picked him up this week with a three-game sweep at Arizona, which snapped a five-game slide. The Giants trailed in all three of those eventual victories, and Wednesday's 9-6 triumph in the series finale improbably marked the team's ninth comeback victory of the season.
"These guys have been amazing with these comebacks," manager Bruce Bochy said. "They come through when we need them."
Dodgers starter Josh Beckett was unable to contain the Rockies on Wednesday, as he allowed five runs in four innings of an eventual 7-3 loss. It was a 3-3 game after three innings but Los Angeles could not score again the rest of the way.
The Giants took two of three from L.A. in the season-opening series last month. In fact, the Giants have not lost a head-to-head series with the Dodgers since the 2009 season.