Dodgers send Kershaw to mound against Rockies

LOS ANGELES -- The champagne is chilling as the Los Angeles Dodgers are close to icing another National League West title.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (11-3, 1.73 ERA) takes the mound Saturday and opposes Colorado Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis (13-7, 4.79) in the third contest of the four-game series at Dodger Stadium.

A win by the Dodgers and a loss by the San Francisco Giants, who are in San Diego, allows Los Angeles to claim a club-record fourth straight NL West championship.

Although Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who is in his first season, is preaching caution, he realizes one of the goals for his club is near.

"We want to clinch as fast as possible," Roberts said. "It's as simple as that."

The Dodgers are close to another postseason appearance despite another injury rearing its ugly head in their starting rotation. Left-hander Scott Kazmir returned to the mound Friday night after a one-month absence with neck issues but lasted only an inning after suffering right intercostal spasms, which affects the muscles between the ribs.

Kazmir's injury is just the lastest that has plagued the team's starters, including ones to Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kershaw.

Kershaw, though, has been solid since his return from a herniated disk last month. In his last appearance against the Giants, he allowed an unearned run on three hits in six innings but did not factor into the decision in the Dodgers' 2-1 victory. Kershaw struck out seven and walked one.

At home, Kershaw has been almost unbeatable. In nine starts this season, Kershaw is 7-1 with a 1.19 ERA and has limited the opposition to a .154 batting average. Kershaw has struck out 80 batters against four walks, while posting a 0.59 WHIP.

Kershaw is 17-5 with a 3.20 ERA in 31 career starts against the Rockies. He has limited the Rockies to a .220 average, while striking out 217 against 67 walks.

Kershaw last faced the Rockies on Sept. 14, 2015, allowing one run on three hits in seven innings and recording the win in the Dodgers' 4-1 victory. Kershaw struck out five and issued two walks on 105 pitches.

Bettis is enjoying one of his best seasons, earning career highs in wins, starts (30) and innings (174 2/3). Bettis is 6-5 with a 4.84 ERA in 17 road starts this season.

He faces the Dodgers for the second time this season. On July 2, Bettis allowed four runs on six hits in a 6-1 Dodgers' victory.

Bettis has a 0-1 mark with a 4.91 ERA in seven games (four starts) against Los Angeles.

Bettis works against a team intent on punching its ticket to the postseason. Robert is confident the Dodgers' offense will find a way to prevail.

"I do like this lineup," Roberts said. "One through eight we're pretty good and also with the guys we have the bench just adds to our depth. We've got guys who can come off the bench and hit, which makes us a dangerous club."