Dodgers eye first place and sweep of Giants

9:17 AM, Jul 29, 2012   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - Clayton Kershaw aims to pitch the Los Angeles Dodgers into a first-place tie with the San Francisco Giants atop the National League West on Sunday when they try to complete a three-game sweep at AT&T Park.

After winning Friday's opener in extra innings, the Dodgers had an easier time of it on Saturday, as Chad Billingsley tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings in a 10-0 rout.

Billingsley (6-9) won his second straight outing on the heels of a five-game losing streak and limited the Giants to four hits.

Matt Kemp and A.J. Ellis hit home runs for Los Angeles, which sits a game back of San Francisco in the division. Kemp finished with four hits and four RBI.

"Every series is important until the end of the season," Kemp said. "Second half is always the most exciting part of baseball, you know, people are in the hunt, trying to make the playoffs. The Giants are a good team over there. We just have to keep playing our game and keep going."

The Dodgers got to the red-hot Barry Zito, who had only allowed three runs in 14 innings in two starts since the All-Star break. Los Angeles tagged the lefty for four runs on seven hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings.

"It's the major leagues, you know nothing's easy here," Zito (8-7) said. "We're excited to come down to the wire and fight it out for the next two months.

Today it will be Kershaw, who is 7-6 with a 3.14 ERA. The NL's defending Cy Young Award winner is coming off one of the worst starts of his career, though, against St. Louis on Tuesday, as he was torched for eight runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Kershaw lost to the Giants the last time he faced them and is 6-3 in 14 games (13 starts) with a 1.45 ERA against them.

San Francisco, meanwhile, will counter with righty Ryan Vogelsong, who has won eight of his last 10 decisions. Vogelsong beat the San Diego Padres on Monday, holding them to a run and four hits in seven innings to run his record to 8-4, while lowering his ERA to 2.26.

His 1.41 ERA in 10 home starts is the lowest in the NL.

"He's been solid all year and so consistent," San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said. "He goes out there and does it again."

Vogelsong has beaten Kershaw twice this season and is 4-2 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 3.65 ERA. He's only allowed one run in his two starts versus L.A. this season.

"Just because I came out on the right side in two games with him that doesn't change (anything)," Vogelsong said.

These teams have split eight matchups this season.

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