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Pirates-Dodgers Preview

AP - Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers' newest big-name acquisition shined in his team debut, opening this three-game set with a sparking performance on the mound.

The Pittsburgh Pirates figure to have their hands full again versus Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw looks to build on Zack Greinke's impressive display as the Dodgers go for an 11th win in 12 games against the visiting Pirates on Saturday night.

Signed to a six-year, $147 million deal this offseason, Greinke lived up to the billing Friday, striking out six over 6 1-3 innings of two-hit ball in a 3-0 win.

"First impressions are important. But I'm just trying to get one out at a time," Greinke said. "That's kind of what I do, and hopefully everything takes care of itself."

Los Angeles (2-2) has taken 10 of 11 from Pittsburgh (1-3) - the Dodgers have 71 runs in that stretch and the Pirates 71 hits - including seven straight at home by a 40-8 margin. The Pirates, who failed to reach second base Friday, are the last remaining team without a home run, and they could be in for another long night with Kershaw on the hill.

The 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner was lights out in his first start Monday, going the distance while allowing four hits and striking out seven in a 4-0 win over San Francisco. He also came through in a big way at the plate, breaking a scoreless game open with his first career homer in the eighth.

Kershaw was the first pitcher to go deep and throw a shutout on opening day since Cleveland's Bob Lemon in 1953. He's the first Dodgers pitcher to leave the yard in an opener since Don Drysdale in 1965.

"You got a sense on this day, with the first pitch thrown by Sandy Koufax and the last pitch by Clayton Kershaw, it's almost like a passing of the torch today," second baseman Mark Ellis told the league's official website. "He's the most special player I've ever played with."

Kershaw owns a 0.61 ERA over his last six outings dating to September, yielding one run or none in all six.

The left-hander has gone 1-1 while posting a 3.09 ERA and a .192 opponent batting average over six career starts against the Pirates. While Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte are a combined 0 for 8 with seven strikeouts against him, Andrew McCutchen is 5 for 14 with a homer.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, gives the ball to A.J. Burnett (0-1, 4.76). The right-hander struck out 10 and yielded three runs in 5 2-3 innings of Monday's 3-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, his first opening day start in 15 seasons.

Burnett has gone 1-7 with a 3.34 ERA over his last nine starts dating to August, receiving two or fewer runs of support in eight of those outings - including zero in five of them.

Burnett has lost his last three outings at Chavez Ravine while compiling a 6.00 ERA and walking 13 in 15 innings. His two most recent starts there, though, came in 2004 and 2010.

No active player in baseball has more at-bats versus Burnett than Carl Crawford, who's gone 18 for 62 (.290) in their matchups. Adrian Gonzalez is 1 for 8.

Matt Kemp, 18 for 43 (.419) with a homer, 11 runs scored and 10 RBIs over the last 11 games versus Pittsburgh, went 1 for 4 with an RBI double Friday - his only hit in 14 at-bats thus far.

"I'm excited about that one," he said. "There's more to come though, there's more to come."

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