Kershaw takes the ball for Dodgers in Colorado

With a trip to the playoffs almost a foregone conclusion, Clayton Kershaw resumes his push for another Cy Young Award on Monday afternoon in the first of three straight meetings with the Colorado Rockies.

Kershaw, named the NL's top pitcher in 2011, is 13-8 with a Major League- leading 1.72 earned run average through 28 starts. He also leads the majors with 204 innings pitched and has an NL-high 197 strikeouts.

The lefty, though, had a three-start winning streak stopped on Tuesday versus the Chicago Cubs. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and three walks, fanning nine in 5 2/3 innings.

Kershaw threw 107 pitches, the most he had logged in six outings even though he went eight innings in four of his previous five.

"That wasn't what we've come to see from Clayton tonight. He wasn't as sharp as he has been," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

The 25-year-old is 8-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 21 career starts versus the Rockies.

The Dodgers are 34-8 since the All-Star break to open up an 11 1/2-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the NL West. They have won five of their last six and finished off a three-game sweep of San Diego with Sunday's 2-1 win.

Zack Greinke won his 14th game of the campaign after allowing one run on two hits and two walks over seven innings. Yasiel Puig backed him with a go-ahead solo homer in the sixth.

"Zack gets you deep into the game," Mattingly said. "He got better as the game went on."

The Rockies are coming off a memorable Sunday as Todd Helton collected the 2,500th hit of his career in a 7-4 win. He reached the milestone with a double in the seventh inning.

Helton joined Stan Musial as the only players to have at least 2,500 hits, 550 doubles, 350 home runs and at least a .310 career batting average.

"It was mostly relief, but I was excited," Helton said of reaching 2,500 hits for his career. "It's a big number. I'm very proud of it."

Michael Cuddyer stole a bit of the spotlight with a four-hit game, logging two doubles and a solo homer while driving in three runs. He helped the Rockies win for the fifth time in seven games.

While Helton reached a milestone, Chad Bettis hopes to secure his first career victory in today's opener.

The 24-year-old righty is 0-3 with a 4.80 ERA through his first six starts and is coming off a loss to San Francisco on Tuesday. Bettis was charged with four runs on nine hits and a walk in six innings, matching the longest start of his young career.

However, the four earned runs he allowed were the most since he gave up five in his MLB debut on Aug. 1.

"I think (Bettis) missed a couple pitches in the zone," Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario said, "and we can't execute the last pitch. Every hitter we got two strikes, and we couldn't execute the one pitch to make an out. I think that's why he got a little bit out of control, and we gave up three runs (in the first inning)."

Bettis, a 2010 second-round pick, will face the Dodgers for the first time.

The Rockies own a slight 7-6 edge over the Dodgers in the season series.