Southpaw showdown: Bumgarner faces Kershaw in Los Angeles
Bumgarner is 7-3 with a 2.54 ERA and 0.92 WHIP against the rival Dodgers in his career. (AP IMAGES)
Programming note: Giants-Dodgers coverage kicks off tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
Runs weren't easy to come by in the opener of this four-game set between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
Fans can expect more of the same when Clayton Kershaw takes the hill opposite Madison Bumgarner on Friday night at Chavez Ravine.
The NL West-leading Dodgers (86-60) had dropped five of seven before getting back on track with Thursday's 3-2, 10-inning victory. After Zack Greinke went toe-to-toe with Matt Cain, Adrian Gonzalez delivered a game-winning RBI single as Los Angeles reduced its magic number to five for clinching its first division title since 2009.
The Dodgers improved to 6-1 in their last seven matchups against San Francisco (66-81).
Los Angeles now turns to Kershaw (14-8, 1.92 ERA), who leads the majors in ERA and base runners allowed per nine innings (8.42). The 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner has also recorded NL bests with 208 strikeouts and 216 innings pitched.
The left-hander, though, hasn't been at his best of late. After giving up a season-high five earned runs and career-worst 11 hits in five innings in a 10-8 road win over Colorado on Sept. 2, Kershaw offered up two solo homers to Jay Bruce over seven innings in Sunday's 3-2 walkoff loss at Cincinnati.
"I felt a lot better," Kershaw said. "Obviously, you'd like things to go differently."
Kershaw has to be feeling good about bouncing back against the Giants. He is 11-4 with a 1.32 ERA in the series, his lowest mark against any NL club.
Kershaw has won three straight home starts versus San Francisco while yielding a combined three runs and striking out 22 in 25 innings. He has limited Hunter Pence to one hit in his last 32 at-bats in their matchups, and Brandon Crawford is 1 for 14. Brandon Belt has also struggled, going 3 for 27 with 13 strikeouts.
Bumgarner (11-9, 2.82), meanwhile, has baffled several of Los Angeles' hitters, including Mark Ellis (1 for 16), Gonzalez (2 for 20), Andre Ethier (3 for 22) and Hanley Ramirez (3 for 17).
Bumgarner surrendered two runs in seven innings to beat Los Angeles 4-2 on July 6, improving to 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA in his last eight matchups in the series. He has been especially good at Dodger Stadium, going 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA.
Bumgarner has gone 0-3 with a 3.27 ERA during a seven-start stretch overall while receiving an average of 2.40 runs of support. The southpaw allowed four hits and struck out nine over six scoreless innings Sunday in a 3-2, 11-inning win over Arizona.
"It doesn't matter if I get the win or not, that's out of our control," he said. "All the starters are trying to do is compete, eat up some innings and keep us in it."
Ramirez exited in the seventh inning Thursday for precautionary reasons with mild tightness in his left hamstring, leaving his status for this game unknown.
Facing his former team for the first time since signing with the Dodgers in July, Brian Wilson tossed a scoreless 10th to earn the win.
"It's obviously different hitting him instead of catching him, but just looking at the velocity of the cutter and the fastball, it's pretty close to where he always is," Giants catcher Buster Posey said.
The loss ended last-place San Francisco's streak of four consecutive winning seasons.