Everything has been breaking the right way for the Los Angeles Dodgers since the All-Star break. They're 21 games over .500 and in first place in the NL West, 8 1/2 games ahead of the Diamondbacks.
Tonight, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will face the Philadelphia Phillies in the middle installment of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
Kershaw has never beaten the Phillies in eight career starts, going 0-4 with a 4.31 ERA. The leader in the majors with a 1.88 ERA, the lefty also tops MLB in opponents' batting average (.184) and WHIP (0.88). He's tossed seven or more innings in 20 of his 25 starts.
Kershaw is coming off a victory against Tampa Bay on Sunday when he allowed three hits and two runs -- one earned -- over eight innings.
Kyle Kendrick is 1-3 over his last four starts and is coming off a 6-0 defeat at Washington on Sunday. The right-hander, who will oppose Kershaw, gave up 11 hits and six runs -- four earned -- in 4 1/3 frames. He's 5-5 with a 7.36 ERA in 11 games (8 starts) versus the Dodgers.
The Philadelphia Phillies' bats were silenced in Ryne Sandberg's debut last night.
Zack Greinke outpitched fellow former AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee in a 4-0 L.A. win. The news before the game was Sandberg, the team's third base coach, replaced longtime manager Charlie Manuel on an interim basis.
Phillies management informed Manuel, the winningest skipper in team history, that his contract would not be renewed after the 2013 season. During his eight-plus years at the helm, the club won five consecutive NL East titles, two NL pennants and a World Series championship.
However, wins have been hard to come by of late for the Phillies, who have spiraled since the All-Star break. Friday's loss was the 20th in the last 24 games for Philadelphia.
General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. made the change with the club's future in mind and said the move gives him, along with the rest of the front office, an opportunity to see if Sandberg, long believed to be Manuel's successor, is a valid managerial candidate.
"It was an emotional day for a lot of reasons. Some of the players have been with Charlie for nine years," Sandberg said. "It hit me emotionally. I had to get the wheels turning as far as managing. I almost ran out to third base."
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have been rolling. They notched their season-high ninth straight win and improved to a major league-best 41-8 since June 22.
Greinke (11-3) scattered three hits and walked four over 7 1/3 innings. He departed with two men aboard, and a walk by reliever Paco Rodriguez to Domonic Brown loaded the bases with two outs. Ronald Belisario, though, struck out Darin Ruf to preserve what was a three-run lead at the time.
The Phillies lost three of four games at Dodger Stadium from June 27-30.