The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a bad spot in the NL West standings, but at least they're putting themselves in position to win series.
Giving the ball to ace Clayton Kershaw on Sunday could help the host Dodgers win another one as the NL-leading St. Louis Cardinals try to stay undefeated in their last eight series.
When the season started, looking up at the rest of the West was not where the Dodgers (20-27) imagined they would be during Memorial Day weekend. Their struggles have raised plenty of questions about manager Don Mattingly's job security, even though team president Stan Kasten said before Friday's 7-0 loss that he's not in danger of being fired.
The Dodgers could start to quiet some of the calls for Mattingly's job by stringing together some victories. The club goes for its fourth series win in five tries following Saturday's 5-3 victory.
Adrian Gonzalez finished a triple short of the cycle and drove in three runs and Nick Punto added three hits to help the Dodgers end the Cardinals' three-game winning streak and 3-0 run outside St. Louis.
"Just the fact that we stayed in the game helps,'' Gonzalez said of the Dodgers scoring the game's final two runs after giving up a 3-1 fifth-inning lead. "It's not that we're not fighting. We're just going down in order and not getting guys on base.''
Dodgers stars Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, a combined 0 for 13 this series, could make Kershaw's Sunday a little easier by driving in some runs. They both hit homers in Kershaw's last start - a 3-1 win over Milwaukee on Monday - but his run-support average of 2.21 is the worst in the majors.
Kershaw (5-2, 1.35), though, has the majors' best ERA after allowing just three earned runs in 39 2-3 innings over his last five outings.
"Every time I get in trouble, Kersh saves me,'' Mattingly joked after the left-hander's three-hitter Monday. "One more day.''
Kershaw goes for a season-best third consecutive winning start.
Sunday's scheduled starter Shelby Miller (5-3, 1.74) was tied with Kershaw for the majors' best ERA before permitting a season high-tying three runs in Monday's 4-2 loss at San Diego. The right-hander needed 107 pitches to go 5 2-3 innings.
"It seems like 20 pitches every single inning, every single outing, back-to-back starts,'' said Miller, who threw 96 pitches in 5 2-3 shutout innings of a 4-2 win over the New York Mets on May 15. "Throwing so many pitches in back-to-back games is not good. It accumulates with a little bit of everything. My curveball wasn't really good tonight. Neither was my changeup. My fastball wasn't really there. Multiple things were off.''
The Cardinals need Miller to be on his game with their bullpen logging seven innings Saturday after rookie John Gast left in the second with shoulder tightness. St. Louis starters Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook are already on the disabled list.
Miller will make his second appearance and first start against the Dodgers. He threw one scoreless inning in a 5-2, 12-inning road win over Los Angeles on Sept. 16 for his first major league victory.
If the Cardinals can avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since a season-worst three-game skid April 27-29, they'll improve to 7-0-1 in their last eight series.