Yasiel Puig has added some much-needed production to the Los Angeles Dodgers' offense, but it wouldn't be a surprise if pitching led the club to a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.
That's because ace and 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to take the mound and is among the league leaders in earned run average.
The left-hander is winless over his last two starts, dropping a 5-3 decision to St. Louis on May 26 prior to Friday's no-decision at Colorado. Kershaw yielded three runs over seven-plus innings on that day, tagged for eight hits and a pair of walks.
Kershaw admitted afterward to not being in top form.
"I didn't have a whole lot," he told his club's official website. "My fastball was not good, command not great. Kind of fought my way through it."
Still, the 25-year-old went at least seven innings for the 10th time in 12 starts this season and is 5-3 on the year with a 1.85 ERA.
Kershaw has a career ERA of 2.41 over 18 previous meetings with San Diego, producing an 8-4 record, but was roughed up for five runs -- three earned -- over 5 1/3 frames of a loss the last time he faced the club on April 17 at home. Kershaw yielded solo homers to Kyle Blanks, Everth Cabrera and Chris Denorfia.
While Kershaw usually dazzles on the mound, Puig has begun his major league career with a bang at the plate. The 22-year-old Cuban defector dominated Double-A this season after signing a seven-year, $42 million deal last June.
With Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford both on the disabled list due to injury, Puig made his MLB debut in Monday's victory, logging a pair of hits in four at- bats. He then homered twice and drove in five runs to key last night's 9-7 victory.
"Those were two impressive home runs there," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly remarked. "We see a little bit of just everything this guy can do. Power both ways. He's fun to watch."
Tim Federowicz added a two-run shot and Luis Cruz notched an RBI double and two runs scored for the Dodgers, who had lost four of five before this series.
After missing Monday's opener, San Diego outfielder Carlos Quentin homered among his three hits in his first game back in Los Angeles since inciting a benches-clearing brawl on April 11 after getting hit by a Zack Greinke pitch. Greinke suffered a broken collarbone when Quentin charged the mound and the Padres outfielder was suspended for eight games.
Blanks belted a two-run homer and Denorfia smacked a solo shot and finished with two RBI for the Padres, who have lost three straight.
These two clubs have now split eight meetings this season and the Dodgers will be looking to avenge a three-game sweep by the Padres in Los Angeles from April 15-17.
The Padres will try to avoid the sweep behind veteran hurler Jason Marquis, who has not lost since April 22.
The 34-year-old righty won five straight starts prior to consecutive no- decisions. Versus Toronto on Friday, he allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings.
Free passes have been an issue for Marquis, who has walked at least four in eight of his 11 starts this season, but has still gone 6-2 with a 3.82 ERA.
Marquis is 7-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 17 lifetime meetings with the Dodgers, all but one of those starts. He won in Los Angeles on April 16, allowing a run over 7 2/3 innings.