Dodgers turn to Kershaw to salvage finale vs. Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants are rolling for the first time in 2017.

However, if they want to run their season-high winning streak to six games, they will have to solve Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers look to their ace left-hander to help them salvage the finale of the three-game series that marks the end of a seven-game trip. Los Angeles (22-18) is 2-4 on the trip.

The Giants (17-24) counter with a pretty good pitcher of their own, right-hander Johnny Cueto, and they are just starting to feel as if things are going their way.

"We're just trying to stay in the moment, one game at a time, and not trying to get too far ahead of ourselves," said Giants left-hander Ty Blach, the winning pitcher on Tuesday. "But it's real good knowing guys are confident up there, making plays defensively, swinging the bats offensively. It's fun to be clicking on all cylinders."

The presence of Kershaw (6-2, 2.43 ERA) will force Giants manager Bruce Bochy to make a couple tweaks to his lineup. He plans to give left-handed-hitting regulars Brandon Belt and Denard Span the day off.

"The numbers are what they are," Bochy said of Kershaw's stats against the Giants. "He can be tough on them. They're not pretty, let's be honest."

Belt is hitting .059 lifetime with 27 strikeouts in 51 at-bats against Kershaw. Span is 0-for-13 with four strikeouts.

"It's a tough matchup for Brandon," Bochy said. "Any time you try find a guy a day off, you take into account who is pitching."

Kershaw's career number against San Francisco are otherworldly: 19-9 with a 1.66 ERA in 38 games (37 starts). In two starts vs. the Giants this year, he is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA.

Cueto (4-2, 4.15 ERA) isn't too shabby against the Dodgers, either, going 6-6 with a 2.94 ERA in 15 career starts. He is 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA in two outings against Los Angeles this season.

Cueto's most recent start, Friday against the Cincinnati Reds was his best of the year: two runs on five hits in eight innings.

The Dodgers know they have to do a lot more than just pitch effectively to snatch one win from their Northern California rivals.

"We're getting the starting pitching for the most part we need," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Offensively, we score in bunches. I think we all expected to score more coming into this series. It's tough to hit, I just can't pinpoint why we can't sustain that momentum and traction."

Los Angeles was stymied Tuesday, following an 8-4 loss on Monday with a 2-1 loss. The lone run was courtesy of Chris Taylor's solo home run to start the sixth inning.

"If you look at the quality of contact in these first two games, (the Giants) found some outfield grass without really squaring the ball up," Roberts said. "But that's baseball. When they've had guys in scoring position, they've found a way to manufacture, and that's to their credit."

While San Francisco has found a way to string together five straight wins, Bochy is also aware there is a way to go. He is happy the wins have started to come now rather than later.

"We're not completely on track, but it's a good start what we're doing right now," Bochy said. "I just like the mood and the spirit of the club in spite of the struggles early. They're still all in on the effort and trying to win a ballgame.

"It's a lesson we learned from last year. You have to be careful not to say, 'Hey, we'll be fine. There's a lot of baseball left.' You don't want to get into that mentality. That's not going to be the thing that stops it. The thing that stops it is your sense of determination and how badly you want it."
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