Manager Bud Black’s team, though, has already gotten the best of him twice this year.
Kershaw tries to avoid losing a career-worst third consecutive start to the surging Padres, who look to continue their recent success against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.
Owner of the NL’s lowest ERA, Kershaw (5-4, 1.84 ERA) allowed three hits and struck out eight over seven innings of one-run ball during Saturday’s 5-3, 11-inning victory at Pittsburgh. The former Cy Young award winner was in line for the win before Kenley Jansen blew the save.
“It’s a little disappointing that he didn’t get the win because he deserved it,” outfielder Andre Ethier said of Kershaw. “When you see them score a run in the ninth, it’s a little sickening feeling that one got away from him.”
Kershaw is 0-2 with a 2.91 ERA over his last five outings - his longest winless stretch since going 0-3 with a 2.60 ERA over his final 11 starts in 2009.
“You control what you can control. It’s not easy to do sometimes,” he told MLB’s official website. “But you control what you can control and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Kershaw entered 2013 having gone 8-3 with a 2.28 ERA over 17 matchups versus San Diego (37-36) before dropping a pair of home starts while posting an uncharacteristic 3.97 ERA. He’s, however, 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA in seven outings at Petco Park, allowing two runs or fewer in each.
The Padres took the opener of this four-game set 6-3 on Thursday, their eighth win in 10 games. Acquired from Boston last Friday, Pedro Ciriaco went 2 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs for San Diego, which has hit .320 and outscored the Dodgers 42-23 in taking five of seven in the series.
Los Angeles (30-41), meanwhile, failed to take advantage of Yasiel Puig’s sixth homer - three of which have come against the Padres. The Dodgers have dropped eight of 11 overall and 15 of 20 on the road.
They’ll try to turn things around against San Diego’s Clayton Richard (2-5, 7.01), who shut down Arizona in Sunday’s 4-1 win. The left-hander allowed one run, seven hits and no walks over a season-high eight innings, earning his first victory as a starter.
“Clayton threw extremely well,” Black said. “I thought he had good command of the fastball down in the zone, which is something he hasn’t always had this season. He had good action with all of his pitches, which is what we expect of him every time out.”
Richard is winless in his last five outings against Los Angeles, going 0-2 with a 6.12 ERA. He was tagged for six runs in 4 1-3 innings at Dodger Stadium on June 4, giving up a three-run homer to Puig.