Dodgers vs. Reds preview: Clayton Kershaw tries to prevent sweep

Doug Pensinger

The Dodgers and Reds have split six games this season. Sunday night's contest is the last game for the Dodgers outside of the National League West.

The Dodgers find themselves in the relatively unfamiliar position on Sunday of trying to salvage a game, as they battle the Reds on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN.

Clayton Kershaw gets the start for the Dodgers, trying to come out of a personal funk of his own. Though because he is Kershaw, his three-start slump without his best stuff included a start of eight scoreless innings and another with nine strikeouts and just one earned run allowed.

Kershaw leads the majors in ERA (1.89), WHIP (0.919) and innings per start (7.21), and leads the National League with 201 stikeouts. Kershaw, with 209 innings to date, needs to pitch at least five innings on Sunday night to pass Adam Wainwright for the major league lead in innings pitched.

Sunday night is a rematch of a 2012 ESPN Sunday night matchup between Kershaw and Homer Bailey. Kershaw lasted only five innings in that game but was also coming off a hip impingement. Adrian Gonzalez snapped a long power drought that night with two home runs off of Bailey, who he has tormented throughout his career. Gonzalez is 9-for-18 with five home runs and two doubles against the right-hander.

Kershaw will not only look to avoid a sweep by the Reds and the Dodgers' first four-game losing streak since an eight-game skid from May 1-10. Kershaw and Zack Greinke have been lined up in back-to-back games for each one of Greinke's 24 starts this season, and the Dodgers have yet to lose back-to-back games with those two on the mound.

Of the first 23 Kershaw-Greinke two-game combinations, the Dodgers have won both games 10 times, have gone win-loss seven times and have gone loss-win six times. After the loss in Saturday's game, a Greinke start, the Dodgers will need a win Sunday night to avoid the first Kershaw-Greinke loss-loss combo.

Step one might be retiring Joey Votto, who has reached base all nine times in the first two games of the series. The major league leader in walks (116) and the National League leader in on-base percentage (.432) on Friday and Saturday against the Dodgers is 4-for-4 with a home run, a double and five walks, two intentionally issued.

Votto is 5-for-20 (.250) with two home runs, a double, three walks and 11 strikeouts against Kershaw in his career. Votto is one of just four left-handed batters to hit more than one home run against Kershaw, joining Adam Dunn, Brad Hawpe and Carlos Gonzalez.

Game info

Time: 5:05 p.m.

TV: ESPN

MLB Gameday

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