The Phillies try to defeat Kershaw for the fifth straight time Thursday night in the finale of a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park.
Kershaw (10-7, 3.19 ERA) is facing Philadelphia (63-50) for the first time since making one start and one relief appearance in last year’s NL championship series, allowing a combined seven runs in 6 2-3 innings. Including those two outings and two in the 2008 NLCS, he’s 0-4 with a 7.83 ERA in his last seven games versus the Phillies, lasting no longer than 5 1-3 innings in four starts.
The Phillies, though, are missing Ryan Howard(notes) (ankle), Chase Utley(notes) (thumb) and Shane Victorino(notes) (abdominal strain), with Victorino likely to return this weekend. They suffered another injury when backup first baseman Ross Gload(notes) strained his right groin and left Wednesday’s 2-0 victory.
Kershaw is trying to avoid losing three straight starts for the first time in his three-year career. He yielded six runs - on two three-run homers by Adam Dunn(notes) - over six innings in a 6-3 loss to Washington last Friday.
“The home runs really don’t bother me,” said Kershaw, who hadn’t yielded a homer in 31 1-3 innings before that outing. “They were solidly hit. What bothers me is that I put two runners on base ahead of them.”
Philadelphia didn’t need much offense Wednesday to even this series thanks to Roy Oswalt(notes), who yielded five hits in seven innings to earn his first victory with the club. Brad Lidge(notes), previously a teammate of Oswalt’s with Houston, worked the ninth for his 15th save in 19 chances.
“It’s great to be pitching behind him again. It’s just like old times,” said Lidge, who has thrown 5 1-3 scoreless innings this month while converting all five of his save opportunities.
The Phillies remained 2 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East.
Philadelphia is looking to win a sixth straight home game started by Joe Blanton(notes) (4-6, 5.65), who did not get a decision Friday after allowing two runs over seven innings in a 7-5 victory over the New York Mets. He’s 3-0 with a 4.22 ERA in his last five outings at Citizens Bank Park and hasn’t lost there since May 8.
The right-hander has pitched well in four career starts against Los Angeles (59-55), going 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA. That doesn’t include two postseason outings, including Game 4 of last year’s NLCS in which he yielded four runs over six innings and did not get a decision in a 5-4 victory.
Los Angeles had a three-game win streak snapped Wednesday with its 10th loss in 12 road games since the All-Star break. Aside from their 15-9 win Tuesday, the Dodgers have scored a total of 20 runs in those games.
The struggling Kemp had a pinch-hit, two-run single Tuesday and struck out as a pinch-hitter Wednesday. He has two hits in his last 22 at-bats.