Clayton Kershaw has won three NL Cy Young Awards, a league MVP and been a five-time All-Star during a stellar career spanning nine seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Yet, he's never started 3-0.

The left-hander can accomplish that feat in Thursday's decisive finale against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

For as good as Kershaw (2-0, 1.64 ERA) has been, winning his first three decisions has been elusive, though it's probably not a major point of concern for the superstar.

Kershaw has been his usual stellar self while Los Angeles (9-6) won each of his three starts in 2016. He's struck out 20 and walked two over 22 innings. On Friday, Kershaw didn't issue a free pass while yielding two earned runs in seven innings of a 7-3 victory over San Francisco.

"He gave us seven strong innings, you know what Clayton does," first-year Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told team's official website. "He didn't have his best stuff. ... I think for him, to not even have his best stuff, he can still dominate a baseball game."

Always looking to improve, Kershaw hasn't been pleased with the effectiveness of his offspeed pitches.

"I still have a lot to get better at," he said. "The consistency of it, I want to throw a good one every time, it's definitely not there right now. It's why you play, just keep working."

Including the postseason, Kershaw hasn't had trouble keeping the Braves (4-10) off balance while going 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in eight starts against them. He fanned 10 without a walk and allowed four hits over seven innings of an 8-0 win May 26 in his only 2015 appearance against Atlanta.

The Dodgers evened this set by overcoming an early 3-0 hole to snap the Braves' four-game winning streak with Wednesday's 5-3 victory in 10 innings.

''We had a chance to win the ballgame, but we didn't score any runs after the fourth inning,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer and Justin Turner's double broke the tie in the 10th. Gonzalez is batting .346 with four homers and 18 RBIs in his last 20 regular-season and playoff games against Atlanta.

He clubbed a two-run homer off Matt Wisler (0-1, 4.61) on July 20 when the Atlanta right-hander gave up all four of his runs in the fifth inning of the six he lasted during a 7-5 defeat.

Wisler has been plagued by poor fourth innings in both of his two 2016 starts. Last Wednesday at Washington, he allowed a solo homer and a two-run shot in that inning of the 3-0 defeat.

''I've got to start getting through that fourth inning clean,'' Wisler said.

This start was moved back after Wisler earned his first save from pitching a scoreless inning of relief in Sunday's 6-5, 10-inning victory at Miami.

Teammate Nick Markakis went 8 for 20 during a five-game hitting streak that ended with an 0 for 3 performance Wednesday. He went 2 for 3 with a double against Kershaw last season.

Atlanta's Erick Aybar is 2 for 31 in the last eight games, and 3 for 21 against Kershaw.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.