Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher in baseball and no one knows that better than the Colorado Rockies, who host the Dodgers and their ace Friday in the second contest of a four-game series. Kershaw was the National League Pitcher of the Month for June and the period was highlighted by one of the most dominant no-hitters in history when he struck out a career-high 15. He was a Hanley Ramirez error away from a perfect game in Los Angeles' 8-0 win over Colorado on June 18. "He's a bulldog out there,'' Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki told reporters. "He's one of the best pitchers in this game, if not the best."
Colorado counters with Jair Jurrjens, who was acquired from the Cincinnati organization Wednesday and hasn't pitched in the majors in more than a year. The Dodgers moved into first place in the NL West - one-half game ahead of San Francisco - with a 3-2 victory Thursday. While Los Angeles prevailed for the 14th time in 20 games with its fifth straight win over the Rockies, Colorado lost its fourth in a row and is 2-13 in its last 15 contests to move within one-half game of the NL West basement.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, SportsNet LA (Los Angeles), ROOT (Colorado)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (9-2, 2.04 ERA) vs. Rockies RH Jair Jurrjens (NR)
Kershaw went 6-0 with an 0.82 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 44 innings covering six June starts, which also included a rain-shortened 6-1 victory in Colorado on June 8 when he struck out nine in five innings. The 26-year-old Texas native struck out 13 while yielding five hits in seven innings of Los Angeles' 6-0 victory over St. Louis on Sunday in his last turn. Kershaw is 12-5 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 25 career starts against the Rockies - 6-3/5.03/1.37 in 14 turns at Coors Field.
With Christian Friedrich (0-3, 9.45 ERA in three starts) demoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Colorado turns to Jurrjens - 53-37 with a 3.63 ERA in his major-league career - with the hope that the former NL All-Star with Atlanta shows any sign of life. The 28-year-old Curacao native, whose career began to derail in 2012 because of injuries, will be the Rockies' 13th starter this season - the most in the majors. "It does help to have a guy with some experience with the ball in his hand, dictating the game like a pitcher does,'' Colorado manager Walt Weiss said of Jurrjens, who was 2-3 with a 4.46 ERA in six starts with the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville.
1. Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado on Thursday returned after missing 37 games with a broken finger and went 0-for-4.
2. Juan Uribe on Thursday had three of the Dodgers' six hits, including a go-ahead RBI single in the ninth inning.
3. Dodgers' starters have issued fewer than three walks in 37 straight turns, surpassing the 2005 Twins for the longest streak in the modern era (since 1900).
PREDICTION: Dodgers 6, Rockies 0