Preview: Blanton Vs Kershaw In Rubber Game Of Phillies Dodgers Series

(Sports Network) – If the Dodgers plan on leaving the City of Brotherly Love with a series win over Philadelphia this evening, starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw may have to do something he’s never done before.

Kershaw is scheduled to pitch in Thursday’s finale of a three-game series against a Phillies team he hasn’t been able to beat in four career regular- season starts. He is 0-3 with a 6.64 earned run average in his career against Philadelphia, which previously beat him during last year’s NLCS.

The left-hander has lost two straight starts overall and three of his last four decisions. Kershaw was last in action during Friday’s 6-3 loss versus Washington and yielded six runs and seven hits in six innings. Kershaw, who fell to 10-7 in 23 starts and raised his ERA to 3.19, owns a 4-4 mark in 10 outings as the guest this season.

Los Angeles is still alive in the playoff race and sits 5 1/2 games off the NL Wild Card lead. It’s also eight games behind San Diego for the top spot in the National League West Division and suffered a 2-0 loss last night after taking Tuesday’s series opener by a 15-9 score. Phils starter Roy Oswalt held the Dodgers in check with seven shutout innings, while Scott Podsednik ended with a team-best three hits for the Dodgers.

Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley pitched well enough for the win, but allowed two runs with three walks and three K’s to absorb his seventh loss (9-7).

“You just can’t make too many mistakes in these types of games,” Billingsley said after LA’s three-game winning streak came to an end.

Philadelphia is in the same situation as Los Angeles and is also fighting for a playoff spot. It is tied with Cincinnati at one game behind San Francisco in the NL Wild Card standings and remained 2 1/2 games in back of Atlanta for NL East bragging rights.

Oswalt was on point in his home debut for the Phils, as he struck out five and walked two batters for the win. Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge both tossed a scoreless innings of relief, with Lidge picking up his 15th save.

“I pitched here before and I like the mound here,” Oswalt said of his home debut with the Phillies. “It really wasn’t too bad.”

Raul Ibanez extended his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games with two hits and an RBI. Ibanez is batting .409 with four homers and 17 RBI during his run. Domonic Brown drove in the other run for the Phillies, who have won seven of their last nine games. The Phillies saw another player go down because of injury after Ross Gload exited the game with a groin problem. Veteran Mike Sweeney replaced him and could start tonight for the Phils, who are already without Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino.

The Phillies would like to see Joe Blanton keep the winning tradition going when he toes the rubber tonight. Blanton has posted back-to-back no-decisions and is coming off a strong start last Friday in a 7-5 win over the New York Mets. Blanton held the despised NL East foes to a pair of runs in seven innings, and remained at 4-6 in 18 starts to go along with a 5.65 ERA.

Blanton is 3-2 in nine home starts this season and will make his fifth career start against Los Angeles tonight. He is 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA in four career matchups — all starts — with the Dodgers.

Philadelphia took all three matchups at home in defeating Los Angeles in five games during last year’s NLCS, but the Dodgers have won in three of their last five visits to Citizens Bank Park in the regular season.

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