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Behind Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers go for 4-game sweep of Padres

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws a pitch in the second inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Thursday, June 23, 2022.Los Angeles Dodgers At Cincinnati Reds
Credit: Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Back closer to sea level, Clayton Kershaw will look to put one of his worst starts in recent memory behind him in an effort to finish off a four-game sweep of the visiting San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon.

In an outing Tuesday at Colorado, Kershaw (5-2, 2.94 ERA) gave up six runs on nine hits over just four innings. It was the first time he had allowed six earned runs in a regular-season game since 2017. The last time he gave up nine hits was the first game of last season, also at Colorado.

“I don’t think I would have pitched well anywhere (Tuesday),” said Kershaw, who is 23-9 lifetime against the Padres with a 2.08 ERA over 44 starts. “Just wasn’t very good all the way around. I don’t really think about Coors Field. Just try to think about it like any other day.

“I haven’t been that bad in a long time. It was good (reminder-wise). Check where you’re at. Remember this game’s not easy. Get going again.”

Home has always been friendlier to Kershaw. He has a 2.22 ERA at Dodger Stadium in his career and a 2.80 mark on the road. He has made just three starts at home this season, though, compared to six on the road.

Kershaw does have to consider that Dodger Stadium can play smaller during the day. With a late-afternoon first pitch Saturday, the Dodgers launched three first-inning home runs in the sunshine against the Padres’ Yu Darvish.

The Dodgers also received their third consecutive high-level pitching performance. After holding the Padres to a combined two runs over the first two games of the four-game series, Los Angeles left-hander Tyler Anderson gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings of a 7-2 victory.

The Padres will try to avoid the sweep with their own left-hander in MacKenzie Gore (4-3, 3.34). The rookie has made 12 appearances (11 starts) in his debut season but none have been against the Dodgers, yet.

Gore showed his mettle in his most recent start, at home against the Philadelphia Phillies, when he pitched five scoreless innings, on June 24. The outing was exactly one week after he gave up eight runs on nine hits over four innings against the Rockies.

His outing on Sunday will come on three extra days of rest, perhaps a nod to the fact that Gore had a 1.76 ERA in three opening-month appearances, had a 1.69 mark in May and saw that rise to 7.27 in four June starts.

The extra time also gives the Padres a chance to work on an in-game adjustment Gore was asked to make against the Phillies to get his breaking ball further to the opposite side of the plate.

“I think for a young pitcher who’s been through a couple tough games, and then to be able to get through a struggle (against the Phillies) and an adjustment in the middle of the game, that was really impressive,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said.

There is an outside chance the Dodgers could see the return of star Mookie Betts, who has not played since June 15. Betts cracked a rib when he collided with teammate Cody Bellinger in the outfield.

As soon as Betts returns, he initially is expected to play at second base before returning to right field.

–Field Level Media