Kershaw, Dodgers aim for much-needed series win over Cards

Clayton Kershaw has already built a pretty impressive resume just six seasons into his career.

If Shelby Miller's rookie season is an indicator, he could be on his way to a successful career as well.

The two go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon when Kershaw's Los Angeles Dodgers shoot for a series victory over the first-place St. Louis Cardinals.

Already a former NL Cy Young Award recipient and 20-game winner, Kershaw aims to extend his recent hot streak in today's finale of a three-game series. He brings a 5-2 record and MLB-leading 1.35 earned run average over 10 starts this season into the meeting.

Kershaw has won three straight decisions, including back-to-back starts. He struck out 11 over 8 2/3 innings to beat Washington on May 14 before hurling his second complete game of the season on Monday in Milwaukee. The left-hander held the Brewers to a run on three hits and fanned five in the 3-1 win.

"It's pretty amazing to play defense behind him," Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier said of Kershaw. "You thank your lucky stars you don't have to face him. It feels good, but we still need to score more runs for him."

Kershaw hasn't needed the run support over his last five starts, going 3-0 while allowing just three earned runs over 39 2/3 innings. Los Angeles has scored just 10 runs in those games.

The 25-year-old is 4-1 with a 0.80 ERA in six home starts this season, yielding four earned runs over 45 innings. Kershaw is 4-3 lifetime when facing the Cardinals with a 3.67 ERA in 10 games.

Miller, like Kershaw a former first-round pick, has had some impressive starts this season, but the right-hander will be looking to rebound from a loss today.

Prior to his last outing at San Diego on Monday, Miller threw back-to-back gems, a span that included a one-hit, 13-strikeout shutout of Colorado on May 10. He did not have the same type of success versus the Padres, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings.

"It was one of those games where they fouled off a lot of pitches again and got his pitch count up and ran it up too high for him to really get himself out of trouble late in the game," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Miller's outing.

The 22-year-old fell to 5-3 on the season with a still-solid 1.74 ERA in nine outings and will make his first career start versus the Dodgers. He faced them once in relief during a brief stint in the majors last season, logging an inning of work.

The Dodgers got a boost from Ted Lilly and Adrian Gonzalez to win Saturday's game 5-3.

Lilly made his first start since going on the disabled list on May 20 due to a rib cage strain and allowed just two runs -- one earned -- on two hits over 5 1/3 innings of a no-decision.

"I was hoping to go a little deeper. My timing was a little in and out and my command wasn't as sharp, but it was the best I've thrown the ball in a long time," said Lilly, who also missed the first 19 games of this campaign while recovering from surgery on the labrum in his left shoulder.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, went 3-for-3 with a homer, three RBI and two walks to pace the offense. Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe both added RBI doubles for the Dodgers, who had lost five of seven, including a 7-0 defeat in the series opener.

St. Louis saw starter John Gast exit in the second inning with a shoulder injury after he gave up a run on one hit and two walks. Though the Cardinals did rally to tie the game at one point, they still had a three-game winning streak snapped.

"I didn't like the loss, and I didn't like losing our pitcher, but I liked our guys fight. We just couldn't capitalize on opportunities," said Matheny.

Yadier Molina went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while David Freese and Pete Kozma chipped in with one RBI apiece for the Cardinals.

The Cards, who lead the Cincinnati Reds by a half game for first in the NL Central, have won six of their past nine versus the Dodgers.