Clayton Kershaw is fortunate to be one of the league leaders in earned run average because the Los Angeles Dodgers have struggled to support their left-hander.
Kershaw hopes the bats awaken for him Tuesday in the continuation of a three- game series versus the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers have scored no more than two runs in each of Kershaw's last three starts and haven't posted more than that in six of his eight total outings.
The left-hander and 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner is 1-0 with a 1.33 earned run average in his last four starts and did not receive a decision in a 3-2 setback versus Arizona on Wednesday, when he lasted seven innings for the sixth time and gave up two runs, one of which was earned. He struck out a season-low four batters and walked one.
"Every time he steps on the mound it should be a win," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "This is the premier pitcher in all of baseball and we're letting those games get away that should be wins. It's frustrating."
L.A. looks for Kershaw to maintain his dominance at Dodger Stadium, where he is 3-1 with a sparkling 0.99 ERA in five starts. Kershaw has made seven career appearances (6 starts) against the Nationals, going 3-2 with a 4.08 ERA.
Dan Haren began his first season with Washington 1-3 with a 7.36 earned run average in his first four starts. Now he's 3-0 with a 3.15 ERA in his past three and gets the nod tonight against the Dodgers.
Haren, who has pitched at least six innings during his personal winning streak, managed to get by Detroit in a 5-4 win Thursday even though he allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings.
"I'm really happy with the team coming away with the two-game sweep against a club of that caliber. I think we are headed in the right direction," Haren said of beating the defending AL champion Tigers.
The right-hander, who is 4-3 with a 5.17 ERA in seven starts, will face the Dodgers for the 18th time in his career and is familiar with them from his days with Arizona. In 17 lifetime meetings, 16 of which have been starts, Haren is 6-5 with a 3.55 ERA.
Washington took the opener of this series, 6-2, on Monday to kick off a 10- game road trip on the west coast. Ryan Zimmerman drove in three runs and Adam LaRoche added two RBI in the win, Washington's eighth in 11 tries.
Jordan Zimmermann pushed his record to 7-1 by holding the Dodgers to a pair of runs in 7 2/3 innings, while relievers Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen combined for 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper had a hit, walked twice and scored two runs before leaving the contest in the fifth inning after colliding face first with the right field scoreboard. After the game, the team announced he did not sustain a concussion, but did require 11 stitches to repair a throat laceration.
"He's going to be alright. His knee was bruised and he had the cut on his neck, but he had no concussion. He should be alright," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
The Nationals remained one game behind Atlanta for the NL East lead.
Matt Kemp and Skip Schumaker were each credited with an RBI for the Dodgers, who had a modest two-game winning streak come to an end. Los Angeles is only 2-9 in its last 11 games and 2-5 on a nine-game homestand.
Josh Beckett fell to 0-5 for the Dodgers after he was reached for four runs, two of which were earned, in only three innings. Beckett was bothered by a strained left groin muscle and will be evaluated by the team.
"He's had some little things going on. We just need to make sure that he is alright. We'll find out over night and find out over night what's going on with him," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Beckett's health.
Washington and L.A. are meeting for the first time since the Dodgers won four of six matchups a season ago. Despite Monday's loss, the Dodgers are still 10-5 in the last 15 matchups in this series.