Clayton Kershaw takes aim at a fourth straight winning start on Friday night when the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers continue a four- game series with the Colorado Rockies.
Kershaw had a .500 record following a loss at San Diego on June 21 despite a 2.06 earned run average. However, he has won three straight starts since while giving up just three runs over 25 innings for a 1.08 ERA over that time. That has given the left-hander baseball's best ERA at 1.89 to go along with an 8-5 record.
Kershaw hurled a four-hit shutout at Coors Field on July 2, striking out eight Rockies hitters. That improved him to 8-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 career meetings with Colorado and he followed up that gem with a solid victory in San Francisco on Sunday.
The 25-year-old scattered a run, three hits and one walk over eight frames.
Kershaw has been a mirror image of the Dodgers' current hot streak. They have won five straight and 16 of their last 19 since June 22, extending their current run with Thursday's 6-1 victory over the Rockies.
The triumph also improved Los Angeles to 13-2 over its last 15 games against the NL West, helping the club move to within 1 1/2 games of first-place Arizona.
Mark Ellis had three hits and drove in four runs in Thursday's win, while Chris Capuano hurled 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He scattered six hits and fanned eight without a walk and the Dodgers moved a game above .500 (46-45) for the first time since they were 7-6 on April 15.
"I tried to throw down and finish the pitch. I tried to stay focused. Tonight was the best I have felt this season," said Capuano.
Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig had a pair of hits, but exited the contest after the seventh inning with left hip discomfort. He aggravated the issue, which first began when he collided with the right-field fence on July 3.
"It didn't seem serious, but as the game went on it looked like it was starting to tighten up a little bit," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Puig, who is day-to- day. "It didn't seem worth it to take any chances with him. We'll see what he looks like (Friday)."
Carlos Gonzalez hit his NL-leading 25th homer of the season for the Rockies, who have lost eight of their last 11 games. Gonzalez went deep on the same day he pulled out of Monday's Home Run Derby due to a sprained right middle finger, though he still plans to play in the All-Star Game.
Drew Pomeranz gave up three runs on seven hits and five walks over four innings to absorb the loss.
"Drew started well, but ran into trouble. His stuff was fine, but he struggled with his command. We didn't play sharp tonight, no doubt about it," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss.
Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler, who were activated from the disabled list prior to the game, each went 0-for-4. Tulowitzki struck out three times in his first action since suffering a broken rib on June 13.
Juan Nicasio returns to the majors to make the start tonight for the Rockies. He is 0-3 over his last seven starts since a win over the Giants on May 19 and suffered his worst and shortest outing of the season on June 25 in Boston.
The right-hander allowed season highs of seven runs (6 earned) and 12 hits over just 2 1/3 innings. Colorado opted to send Nicasio to Triple-A to work out some issues and he allowed one run over 11 innings in two starts with Colorado Springs.
Nicasio, 26, is 4-4 with a 5.31 ERA in 16 starts with the Rockies this season and has faced the Dodgers once in 2013. He did not get a decision on May 1 in L.A. after giving up three runs over four innings.
He is 1-2 lifetime versus the Dodgers with a 5.22 ERA in six meetings.
These two NL West rivals have split 10 meetings this season.