Kershaw eyes career-high 14th win in meeting with Astros

A return home for the Dodgers could be exactly what Clayton best 14th victory this season.

Kershaw looks to avoid his first home setback since April 16 tonight and pitch his Los Angeles club to a series victory over the Houston Astros in the second of three straight games at Dodger Stadium.

The 23-year-old is 8-1 with a 1.94 earned run average in 12 starts at home, where he has won his last seven decisions. He hasn't given up more than two earned runs in six straight outings at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw, who set a career high with 13 wins a season ago, struggled in Arizona on Sunday to halt a five-start win streak. He yielded four runs on five hits, including two homers, and three walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven, but gave up a key two-run homer to Cody Ransom in the seventh inning.

"He got that one a little out over the plate," Ransom said of Kershaw's 1-1 offering. "It didn't cut as much as his other pitches."

The four runs marked the most the left-hander had allowed since giving up six earned in a setback to the Angels on July 2 that preceded his recent win streak. He fell to 13-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 24 starts.

He faced the Astros in Houston on May 23 and did not get a decision despite six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts, keeping his record in this series at 1-1 with a 3.91 ERA in four starts.

Taking the hill for the Astros will be Wandy Rodriguez, who picked up a second victory in three starts on Monday at Arizona.

The left-hander hurled six scoreless innings, giving up two hits and four walks while striking out five in a 9-1 win. He improved to 8-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 21 starts this year and 6-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 12 on the road.

Rodriguez, 32, picked up a win in Los Angeles on June 18 as he worked around seven hits and a walk while striking out six over six scoreless innings. That upped his career mark to 4-3 with a 2.40 ERA versus the Dodgers.

Offense was in high demand, low supply in last night's opener, with the Dodgers taking a 1-0 victory in 10 innings on Matt Kemp's RBI single. That walk-off hit came after Los Angeles failed to score a run despite loading the bases with nobody out in the ninth frame.

"I hit two balls hard today, and the one I hit soft wins the game," Kemp said. "It always feels good to get the game-winning hit."

The Dodgers' win was by no means clean or easy. They had eight walks and five hits, left 12 runners on base and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. It was only by virtue of a strong pitching performance from rookie Nathan Eovaldi that they had a chance to come out on top.

Eovaldi, a 2008 draft choice, made his second career start and held Houston scoreless for six innings. Matt Guerrier, Mike MacDougal and Javy Guerra all followed with a shutout inning of relief to keep it a scoreless game entering the home ninth and Josh Lindblom got the victory with a perfect 10th.

Despite getting out of the jam, Houston couldn't pull out the victory and lost its fourth consecutive game and seventh in the past eight. The Astros did receive a good start from Bud Norris, who gave up only two hits and walked four in seven innings while striking out eight.

"Both sides pitched outstanding," said Houston manager Brad Mills. "Bud threw seven innings and did a good job. Any time you lose in extra innings is hard."

Houston has won four of seven meetings with Los Angeles this season.