While Clayton Kershaw looks to extend the longest current scoreless stretch in the majors, it's the Los Angeles Dodgers' offense that needs to improve in order to avoid the club's longest slide of the season.
They'll try to provide enough support for the left-hander as he tries for a fourth straight winning start Wednesday night against the visiting Oakland Athletics.
Kershaw (8-6, 2.51 ERA) saw his bid for a perfect game end in the seventh Thursday, but he hasn't allowed a run in 29 innings after tossing a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts during the 3-0 win over the New York Mets. It's now the longest active scoreless stretch after teammate Zack Greinke's run of 45 2-3 innings ended Sunday.
"That's what aces do. When he's like that, they've got no chance," teammate Jimmy Rollins told MLB's official website about Kershaw.
Kershaw last yielded a run in the fourth inning of a 2-1 loss to the Mets on July 3. In three starts since, he's recorded two complete games and struck out 38 without a walk over 26 innings.
"I want to throw nine every time out," said Kershaw, 3-1 with an 0.97 ERA in his last five home starts.
This will be Kershaw's first start against the A's (45-56) since 2012. He's allowed one run and struck out 15 over 13 2-3 innings without a decision in two starts against them.
Kershaw and the Dodgers (56-45) hope Sonny Gray's stellar three-hit, nine-strikeout effort in Tuesday's 2-0 defeat isn't the only dominant pitching performance by an ace in this two-game series.
Howie Kendrick had two of those hits for the Dodgers, who are batting .156 with four runs while losing three in a row for the fifth time this season.
With his name among trade speculation, Yasiel Puig is 2 for 24 - both homers - with seven strikeouts in his last eight contests.
Los Angeles also is uncertain how long it will be without third baseman Justin Turner, who was scratched from Tuesday's lineup after a pimple on his leg turned into an infection.
"Over the off day, something went wrong,'' manager Don Mattingly said of Turner, who leads the team with a .323 average and has a career-high 13 homers.
"It was this itty bitty thing then it turned into something a little more dangerous."
Oakland has traded Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist in a six-day span, but snapped a four-game skid despite scoring three or fewer runs for a fifth consecutive contest and the 11th time in the last 14.
''We can still win a lot of ballgames," outfielder Josh Reddick said. "We've just got to keep that confidence in ourselves and believe in ourselves. .. The main goal is to win ballgames, with or without those guys.''
Reddick homered and had half of Oakland's six hits Tuesday. He's batting .375 in his last eight games.
Jesse Chavez (5-10, 3.45) looks to rebound after he allowed four runs, eight hits and walked two in three-plus innings of a 9-3 loss at San Francisco on Friday. It was the third time in his last four starts that Chavez gave up four runs.
"You got to tip your cap to good hitting, but at the same time you got to make adjustments and I didn't do that," said the right-hander, who has a 5.81 ERA while losing four of his last six starts.
He's never started against the Dodgers and hasn't faced them since 2010.