Padres-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

The San Diego Padres' bats have come alive against the Los Angeles Dodgers over the last two days.

Another big performance, though, could be hard to come by against Clayton Kershaw.

With Chase Headley hoping to make his season debut, the Padres try to complete their first sweep at Chavez Ravine in seven seasons when they face Kershaw and the Dodgers on Wednesday night.

After getting outscored 68-39 over their first 12 games, the Padres (4-10) snapped a five-game losing streak Monday with a 6-3 series-opening win. San Diego stayed hot the following night, collecting a season-high 15 hits and going 7 for 15 with runners in scoring position during a 9-2 victory.

Alexi Amarista had three hits and matched a career best with four RBIs while Yonder Alonso and Nick Hundley drove in a combined four more.

"Obviously as a team, we've been struggling all across the board, so to win these last two games at Dodger Stadium is definitely a big lift," winning pitcher Jason Marquis said.

The Padres haven't swept the Dodgers in Los Angeles since July 24-26, 2006, but they've won six of seven there by a 42-23 margin.

San Diego could get a boost from Headley, who's been out since fracturing his thumb during a spring training game March 17. The slugging third baseman finished fifth in NL MVP voting last year after hitting .286 and setting career highs with 31 homers, 115 RBIs and 95 runs scored.

Headley, though, could be in for a quiet debut against Kershaw (2-1, 1.16 ERA), who's limited him to 7 hits in 38 at-bats (.184). The former NL Cy Young award winner is 6-1 with a 1.85 ERA over his last 10 starts against the Padres.

After striking out 16 and throwing a combined 16 scoreless innings in winning his first two starts, Kershaw gave up three runs over 7 1-3 innings Friday in a 3-0 loss at Arizona.

"It was a battle for me," he said. "After the first inning I really didn't have a breaking ball. I just couldn't find the rhythm with it. I was basically pitching with a fastball for most of the night, which obviously makes it difficult."

Despite getting the best of Kershaw, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson had high praise for the left-hander.

"That is not an easy task against Kershaw," Gibson said. "The ball is up, it is hard to sit back against the guy."

Having struck out nine Friday, Kershaw is one away from setting a franchise record for quickest to 1,000. He's thrown 967 1-3 innings, 22 1-3 less than Dodger legend and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax needed to reach the mark.

The Dodgers (7-7) may need Kershaw to be at his best given their recent struggles at the plate. Los Angeles has gone 3 for 24 in RBI situations during a season-worst three-game skid, including 0 for 5 on Tuesday.

"Our problem, again, is basically just not getting guys in," manager Don Mattingly told the team's official website. "It's not being able to get the runs on the board. It's not a matter of being able to get enough guys out there."

Los Angeles will try to break out against Padres starter Tyson Ross (0-1, 4.82), who's been shaky in two outings versus Colorado. The right-hander has allowed eight hits and seven walks over a combined 9 1-3 innings.

Ross, who has never faced the Dodgers, will try to keep Matt Kemp in check. The All-Star center fielder is batting .185 with no homers thus far.

Despite Tuesday's 0-for-3 display, Kemp is hitting .376 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 20 games against San Diego since the start of last season.

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