It seems Clayton Kershaw is back on track and will lead the Los Angeles Dodgers into Sunday's finale of a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
Kershaw has allowed only two runs in his last 20 innings pitched and is riding a personal two-game winning streak since going 0-3 in his previous six trips to the mound. Kershaw recently recorded his second shutout of the season and seventh of his career in Tuesday's 8-0 win at Colorado.
The left-hander struck out eight, did not walk a batter and scattered four hits in pushing his record to 7-5 in 18 starts with a 1.93 ERA. Kershaw is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in three starts against the Giants this season and 10-4 with a 1.33 ERA in 20 career games (19 starts) in this series.
Kershaw was just named to the All-Star Game for a third time in his career.
Los Angeles had won three of four games until dropping Saturday's 4-2 decision to San Francisco. Giants starter Madison Bumgarner struck out nine Dodgers and held them to a pair of runs in seven innings, while Stephen Fife countered for L.A., but wasn't as fortunate.
Fife gave up four runs, one earned, and seven hits in seven innings.
"I feel like I've put my best foot forward and hopefully that's good enough," Fife said when asked if he thought he would remain in the rotation.
Tim Federowicz hit a two-run homer and Carl Crawford went 0-for-4 in his second game back since June 1. Hanley Ramirez extended his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games since June 19. Matt Kemp did not play after aggravating his surgically repaired left shoulder and will most likely miss Sunday's game for the Dodgers, who are still 11-3 in the past 14 contests and tied with Colorado at 4 1/2 games off the NL West lead.
Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig was hitless in four at-bats and could get voted to the All-Star Game as a final nominee. The same goes for Dodgers slugger Adrian Gonzalez, who is a four-time participant in the Midsummer Classic
Los Angeles made a move Saturday and acquired starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins for pitchers Josh Wall, Steve Ames and Angel Sanchez.
San Francisco won for just the second time in its last 12 games Saturday thanks to Bumgarner and the bullpen. Sandy Rosario, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo combined to throw two scoreless innings of relief, with Romo notching his 20th save with two strikeouts in the ninth.
Gregor Blanco had three hits and an RBI and Bumgarner helped his own cause at the plate with a pair of runs driven in. Bumgarner is one of three Giants who were selected to the All-Star Game, joining catcher Buster Posey and second baseman Marco Scutaro. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, of course, will manage the National League squad.
"It's a huge honor," Bumgarner said of being named an All-Star. "Definitely excited and just blessed to be a part of it."
The defending World Series champion Giants are 5 1/2 games off the pace in the NL West standings.
Chad Gaudin is expected to be activated off the disabled list in time to make Sunday's start for the Giants. Gaudin has been sidelined with a right elbow bruise after he was hit by a comebacker off the bat of Derek Dietrich of the Miami Marlins on June 20.
Gaudin tossed 4 1/3 shutout innings that day against Miami and is 2-1 with a 2.60 earned run average in 22 games (4 starts) this season. The right-hander has faced Los Angeles nine times (2 starts) in his career, going 0-2 with a 5.66 ERA.
The Dodgers had won four in a row against the Giants and eight of their last nine matchups with division opponents.