It's been a so-so stretch for the Los Angeles Dodgers since their blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox. Their results against the Arizona Diamondbacks this season haven't been close to mediocre.
Looking to end a six-game losing streak to their NL West rivals, the Dodgers hope Clayton Kershaw can continue his recent success Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series against the Diamondbacks, who are trying to avoid their first seven-game slide in over two years.
Los Angeles (70-61) held off Colorado 10-8 on Wednesday afternoon to snap a three-game skid - it scored six runs during that slide - and win for the second time in five contests since acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto from Boston on Saturday.
The Dodgers broke out offensively without star center fielder Matt Kemp, who is day to day after he collided with the wall in Tuesday's 8-4 loss to the Rockies. Kemp has a bone bruise around the left knee and intense body soreness.
"He feels like a truck hit him," manager Don Mattingly said.
Los Angeles led 10-1 in the eighth Wednesday before Colorado scored seven times in the bottom half of the inning to make it interesting.
"That's kind of our team now, but we're just getting to know each other," Mattingly said. "It's definitely a different feel. Hopefully, we can put this thing together quick and get that rhythm that we need to play. But really, it comes down to a matter of getting the pitching and scoring runs."
Los Angeles has scored 11 times during its losing streak against Arizona (64-67), which has taken eight of 12 meetings in 2012. The Dodgers, though, may not need many runs Thursday with Kershaw (12-7, 2.84 ERA) getting the start.
The left-hander allowed two runs and three hits in eight innings Saturday in an 8-2 win over Miami. He's 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in his last six starts - pitching eight innings in the past three - while striking out 47 and walking six over 46 1-3 innings.
"To me, he's like a freight train," Mattingly told the Dodgers' official website. "He's going to keep coming and keep making pitches. You see it all the time with him, he just keeps going after people."
Kershaw, however, had one of his worst starts of the season the last time he faced the Diamondbacks. He allowed five runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss in Arizona on July 6.
Kershaw pitched seven shutout innings to beat the Diamondbacks 3-1 on May 14 at home, where he's 4-0 with a 0.74 ERA in his last four starts versus Arizona and hasn't allowed a run in 19 innings.
The Diamondbacks will turn to Ian Kennedy, who finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting behind winner Kershaw last season. The right-hander is 11-11 with a 4.44 ERA after going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 2011.
Kennedy, who is 1-3 with a 6.33 ERA in his last four starts, will be looking to help Arizona avoid losing seven in a row for the first time since July 22-29, 2010.
The Diamondbacks led 2-0 after six innings against Cincinnati on Wednesday afternoon before allowing four homers en route to a 6-2 defeat.
"Not a lot is going right. It's not a good feeling," manager Kirk Gibson said. "The more you search, the tougher it gets at times."
Kennedy lost to Kershaw in May after allowing three runs over six innings, falling to 3-2 with a 4.46 ERA in six starts against Los Angeles.