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Dodgers turn to Clayton Kershaw trying to avoid Houston sweep

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers have allowed exactly three runs in each of the first two games of this series against the Astros, which normally bodes well for Los Angeles. But so far, not so good this weekend, with two losses, and needing a win Sunday to prevent a winless week.

When allowing exactly three runs this season the Dodgers are 17-11 (.607), which is pretty much in line with the rest of MLB — 281-195 (.590).

Clayton Kershaw has allowed fewer than three runs in seven of his last eight starts, with six total runs allowed during that span, to go along with 72 strikeouts and seven walks in 62 innings.

Kershaw has been fantastic in August, with a 1.55 ERA even though his strikeouts are relatively down this month, with 27 punchouts and a 24.5-percent strikeout rate, compared to 32.3 percent on the season.

Kershaw has 212 strikeouts, trailing Chris Sale by 10 for the major league strikeout lead. The Astros on offense are second in the majors in both strikeouts (1,093) and strikeout rate (23.8 percent).

The Dodgers have scored three or four runs on offense in each of Kershaw's last six starts, which seems like a bounty of runs for a team that has three runs on their last six games, including one run on seven hits in two games against the Astros.

That offense will face rookie Lance McCullers, called up from Double-A Corpus Christi to make the start on Sunday.

The right-hander was rolling along with a 2.48 ERA in his first 13 starts, with 78 strikeouts and 27 walks in 76⅓ innings, but was sent down to the minors after allowing six runs on seven hits, facing only nine batters in a start against Texas on Aug. 3. It was just the fourth time in 14 major league starts this season that McCullers allowed more than two runs.

McCullers only appeared in one game since getting optioned, throwing three innings on Tuesday.

Up until two weeks ago, the Dodgers hadn't lost more than three games in a row in either 2014 or 2015. But now they have their second four-game losing streak in their last 14 games. The club hasn't lost five straight games since dropping eight straight contests from May 1-10, 2013.

Houston roster move

To make room for McCullers on the roster, outfielder Preston Tucker was optioned to Triple-A Fresno.

Game info

Time: 11:10 a.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA, TBS