Hiroki Kuroda returns to Los Angeles trying to match a career-high fourth straight win on Wednesday when the New York Yankees close out a brief two-game interleague set at Dodger Stadium.
Kuroda has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, especially of late. Kuroda is 3-0 in four starts in July and has allowed just two runs, while issuing five walks in 26 innings.
The Japanese right-hander was terrific on Thursday in Texas, as he scattered six hits over seven scoreless innings to run his record to 10-6, while lowering his ERA to 2.51.
"I don't think I had any particular pitch that was working well, and from the get-go I didn't have a good outing," Kuroda said. "But I think I was able to get big outs and have a decent outing."
Los Angeles is well aware of how good Kuroda has been this year, as he shut the club down back on June 19, giving up just two runs in 6 2/3 innings.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, will counter with a pretty impressive hurler of their own in lefty Clayton Kershaw, who is 10-6 with a 1.96 ERA. Kershaw won his second straight start on Friday against Cincinnati, as he held the Reds to a run and six hits in eight innings. He also fanned eight batters without allowing a walk to win for the fifth time in six starts.
"It was just typical Clayton," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He's just relentless as far as every hitter, every pitch, every inning. He just continues on. It's one of the greatest things about Clayton, he just never gives in."
Kershaw, who did not get a decision in his only other start against the Yankees, leads the majors in ERA (1.96), WHIP (0.87) and opponents batting average (.185).
"He is a really great pitcher, and he's a great person, as well," Kuroda said of Kershaw. "If I had a choice, I would rather not face him."
Los Angeles continued to roll in Tuesday's opener, as Mark Ellis drove in the winner in the ninth and the Dodgers eked out a 3-2 win. Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe each drove in a run for the Dodgers, who have won four straight, 10 of 11 and are 27-6 in their last 33 games.
In the ninth with Shawn Kelley (3-1) on the mound, Andre Ethier hit a one-out single and later stole second after Uribe struck out. Ellis then dropped a base hit into center and Ethier crossed the plate for the win.
"It was a slider. I faced him before and I knew what he was throwing," said Ellis. "When I hit the ball I knew it would fall for a hit. It felt good. We battled all night and we found a way to get the big hit."
Zack Greinke pitched seven innings for Los Angeles and gave up two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. Kenley Jansen (4-3) tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for the win.
Lyle Overbay hit a solo home run and drove in two for the Yankees, who have lost three of four. Andy Pettitte gave up two runs on eight hits in seven innings of work.
"It's tough after seeing Andy pitch that game," said New York manager Joe Girardi. "We've had some tough losses and it's frustrating to lose that way."
These teams split a doubleheader in New York back on June 19, but this series marks the Yankees' first visit to Dodger Stadium since taking two of three back in 2010.