Even if Clayton Kershaw continues to throw the ball as well as he has over the last seven weeks, it might not matter if the Los Angeles Dodgers can't produce at the plate.
Undefeated in his last eight starts, Kershaw hopes to get more support than his teammates have provided their pitchers of late and help the Dodgers snap their longest road skid in seven years Sunday against the Houston Astros.
Kershaw (10-6, 2.34 ERA) is 5-0 with an astonishing 0.87 ERA in eight starts since posting a solid 3.15 mark while dropping three consecutive outings June 17-27. During this undefeated stretch, Kershaw has not yielded a run in five starts, recorded two complete games and struck out 72 while walking seven.
"He puts a lot into every start, like a Sunday in the NFL when he pitches," manager Don Mattingly told MLB's official website. "When he's out there it's full bore, he has a lot invested. He's pitching to win."
The left-hander, who last faced Houston in 2012, gave up a run in seven innings and was in position to win Tuesday until the bullpen blew a three-run lead in a 5-4, 10-inning defeat at Oakland.
Though the Dodgers (67-55) have scored at least three runs with Kershaw on the mound in his last seven outings, they've dropped four straight for the second time this month and totaled nine runs with 23 hits in their last five.
One night after being no-hit by Mike Fiers, Los Angeles recorded seven hits but went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position Saturday to drop seven straight on the road for the first time since a 10-game skid in August 2008.
"It's good to get a hit, just obviously to break that string," Mattingly said. "Obviously getting a hit maybe relieves it a little bit. But other than that, I think you know you have to score."
Justin Turner's RBI single in the sixth Saturday snapped the Dodgers' 20-inning scoreless stretch. Chase Utley, meanwhile, doubled for his only hit in eight at-bats since being acquired from Philadelphia this week.
Houston (68-56) has not scored more than three runs in the last six games, but has yielded six runs and posted a 1.08 ERA while winning four of the previous five.
The Astros will hand the ball to Lance McCullers (5-4, 3.17), who was recalled from Double-A Corpus Christi after being sent there to rest after allowing six runs and seven hits in one-third of an inning during a 12-9 loss at Texas on Aug. 3. The right-hander, however, is 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA in seven starts at home, where he last pitched July 29.
Jose Altuve had two of the Astros' three hits Saturday against Zack Greinke and is batting .391 in the last 15 games. His homer in the sixth gave Houston nine players with at least 10 this season, tying the club record set in 2000.
"It's not a goal, but it's something that is pretty special because it's the first time I have done it," the All-Star second baseman said.
Teammate Carlos Gomez is hitting .184 with 17 strikeouts in 20 games since he was acquired by Houston. He has a .188 average with two doubles and a home run in his last 16 at-bats against Kershaw.