Coming off his worst outing in nearly two years, Clayton Kershaw is looking to recapture his dominant form.
Kershaw takes the mound opposite Roberto Hernandez as the Los Angeles Dodgers open a three-game road series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.After posting a 1.74 ERA over his first three starts, Kershaw (2-1, 4.43 ERA) was hit hard in Saturday's 18-7 loss at Arizona. The two-time Cy Young Award winner threw a scoreless first inning before yielding seven runs and exiting with two outs in the second."It's definitely kind of shocking whenever he has an inning like that," manager Don Mattingly said. "You're kind of expecting him to go seven or eight and give up two or three runs or less. If you can score, you have a good chance of winning. This was definitely not the norm for us with him."The left-hander had gone at least five innings in his previous 68 starts, and he hadn't surrendered more than five runs since allowing eight over 5 2/3 innings in an 8-2 loss at St. Louis on July 24, 2012."You are allowed to have bad days, but those have to be salvaged and you got to save your bullpen, at least try to get through five or six on bad days," he told MLB's official website. "You are allowed to (have bad days), but not like this."Kershaw has allowed one run over 16 innings in his last two outings against the Phillies. Jimmy Rollins is 4 for 23 and Chase Utley 3 for 14 against Kershaw since the start of 2009.The Dodgers (25-23) failed to complete a three-game sweep of the New York Mets on Thursday, falling 5-3. Justin Turner hit a two-run homer against his former team but Los Angeles dropped to 3-3 on its nine-game trip.Yasiel Puig was doubled off second base twice as the Dodgers were done in by a handful of baserunning miscues. Puig has recorded at least a hit in all but one of his last 20 games, going 32 for 80 (.400) with seven homers and 23 RBIs."Being Yasiel's on the aggressive end, I think what we see is a great player," Mattingly said. "On the other (hand), I think we just have to be a little bit more cautious."Mired in a 5-10 stretch, the Phillies (20-24) are looking to avoid a third straight defeat following Thursday's 4-3 walkoff loss at Miami. Marlon Byrd capped a three-run eighth inning with a two-run homer, but Philadelphia went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position."We're so close for that sort of explosion to happen and for everything to come together," said starter Cole Hamels, whose team plays its next 11 at home. "It's a matter of time before it will happen."After making two relief appearances last week, Hernandez (2-1, 3.98) is set to rejoin the rotation. The right-hander has gone 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA in seven starts."He's got a lot to offer," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's got good movement on his stuff all around the zone. So as far as coming out and throwing strikes, he's been very good at that."In his last start, Hernandez allowed one run over five innings of a 3-2, 11-inning road win over the Mets on May 9. He gave up five runs over four innings of a 5-0 loss at Chavez Ravine while with Tampa Bay on Aug. 10, his lone appearance against Los Angeles.Philadelphia won three of four at Dodger Stadium from April 21-24.