Cardinals-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers own the best record in baseball thanks in part to their success at Chavez Ravine.

Clayton Kershaw's impressive run there dates much further back.

Kershaw looks to continue his dazzling stretch at home as the Dodgers go for their longest winning streak over the Cardinals in 36 years Saturday night.

Los Angeles (26-13) leads the majors with a 17-4 home record, and has won 31 of 40 games there dating to last season.

Kershaw (3-1, 2.22 ERA) has played a big role in that, going 13-1 with a 1.60 ERA while holding opponents to a .187 average over his last 19 starts at Dodger Stadium. That streak dates to a loss against St. Louis (22-17) on April 16, 2011.

He's 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA in four regular-season home starts against the Cardinals.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner continued his superb pitching at home with another gem Monday, tossing seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in a 3-1 win over Arizona.

Kershaw will try to build on that performance after the Dodgers took the opener of this three-game series, 6-5, when A.J. Ellis drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth off the Cardinals' Fernando Salas.

That was Los Angeles' fifth straight win against St. Louis, and another victory Saturday would give the Dodgers their longest run in the series since taking eight in a row bridging 1975-76.

Ellis is hitting .419 with one homer and nine RBIs in the past nine games. The catcher has been red hot at home all season, batting .351 with 11 RBIs.

James Loney is also thriving at Chavez Ravine with a .323 average and seven RBIs after collecting three hits with a double and two RBIs Friday. That's a dramatic difference from his .164 average on the road.

Loney is 10 for 17 with three doubles in the past four meetings with St. Louis.

The Cardinals, losers of six of eight, will give Jake Westbrook (4-2, 2.35) a chance to slow down the Dodgers as he tries to rebound from his latest performance.

The right-hander was tagged for four runs and a season-high 11 hits while laboring through 107 pitches in five innings and not getting a decision in Monday's 6-4 loss to Chicago. He had yielded two runs or fewer in five of his previous six outings.

He's scheduled to face the Dodgers for the first time since making two relief appearances with Cleveland in June 2003.

Carlos Beltran looks to continue putting a sore right knee behind him after going 2 for 4 on Friday. The right fielder hadn't been in the lineup the last five games due to the injury.

"I took four days rehabbing and working to try and make it better," Beltran said. "We were approaching this situation day by day, and every day I was making improvement - but not to the level where I could play in games. (Friday) I went out there ran did some sprints in the outfield and everything was 100 percent, so there was no reason for me to sit on the bench.

"Right now, I feel good."

Beltran leads the NL with 13 homers and his 32 RBIs are second to the Dodgers' Andre Ethier (35).

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