The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping to get a bounce-back effort this afternoon from Clayton Kershaw and avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the streaking Oakland Athletics.
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, Kershaw has won just once in his past five starts and struggled a bit in a no-decision versus the White Sox on Friday. The left-hander was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on a season high-tying eight hits and two walks over six innings. Kershaw allowed two homers and fanned seven on start after striking out 12 in a win at Seattle.
Kershaw is 5-3 with a 2.86 earned run average in 14 starts this season and has faced the Athletics once before. He did not get a decision in that June 16, 2009 outing despite hurling 5 2/3 scoreless innings of four-hit ball with eight strikeouts.
The 24-year-old is 5-3 with a 3.19 ERA in 14 career interleague starts.
Going up against Kershaw for the A's with be Travis Blackley, who is coming off his first victory since winning his major league debut on July 1, 2004 with Seattle.
Blackley's second major league win saw him hurl six innings of two-run ball against the Padres on Friday as he scattered five hits and a pair of walks in a 10-2 victory. That moved him to 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA in seven outings (4 starts) since being claimed off waivers from the Giants on May 15.
Blackley faced the Dodgers as a starter back on Sept. 29, 2007 with the Giants and then faced them twice in relief this year while with his former club. In those two outings -- spanning two innings -- the 29-year-old southpaw gave up four earned runs.
The Dodgers have been held to just five hits over the first two games of this series and watched Athletics starter Tommy Milone toss the first complete game of his career in last night's 4-1 Oakland triumph. Milone gave up one run on three hits and a walk, retiring 22 of the final 24 batters faced.
"I have to give it to my defense tonight," said Milone. "I was throwing balls over the plate and they were hitting them and they were making plays out there."
Brandon Moss crushed a solo home run -- his seventh in 13 games -- and Yoenis Cespedes added an RBI and a run scored for the A's, who have won seven of their last eight games.
Nathan Eovaldi remained winless on the year after giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks over six frames to absorb the loss.
Juan Uribe plated the only Dodger run with a double in the second for Los Angeles, which still leads San Francisco by 4 1/2 games for first place in the National League West.
"Their pitch count has been down both nights, that means they've been throwing strikes and forced us to swing the bat," admitted Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "They've kind of attacked us and really kept us down."
These two clubs are meeting in Oakland for the first time since the A's recorded a three-game sweep from June 16-18, 2006. Oakland holds an 11-2 edge in the series at home in interleague play.
The Dodgers did win two of three in Los Angeles in the most recent encounter during the 2009 season.