At the minimum, the Los Angeles Dodgers will leave San Francisco with sole possession of the NL West lead.
Clayton Kershaw will try to make sure his team has a three-game edge in the division while giving NL MVP voters something more to ponder.The Dodgers ace will seek to become the first 19-game winner in the majors in a potential matchup versus another MVP candidate, Giants catcher Buster Posey, on Sunday.Los Angeles (84-64) responded to Friday's 9-0 loss with its most lopsided victory in 12 years Saturday, a 17-0 rout that ended San Francisco's 10-game home win streak and restored its division lead to two games."It's one of those games where everything seemed to go our way," manager Don Mattingly said.The Dodgers' 24 hits were the most by any team in San Francisco -- including the Giants -- since Montreal had 26 in a 19-3 victory May 7, 1997."They punched back," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "We got knocked out early."The Dodgers appear to have a prime chance to claim this pivotal series with Kershaw (18-3, 1.67 ERA) taking the ball.The left-hander has allowed one or no earned runs in each of his four consecutive wins and claimed his 15th victory in 16 decisions Monday against San Diego. He was charged with three runs -- one earned -- in eight innings and fanned eight in a 9-4 victory.Kershaw has won nine consecutive starts against NL West opponents while posting a 0.63 ERA and pitched a three-hitter in a 5-0 win at AT&T Park on July 26. He's 7-1 with a 0.51 ERA in his last nine starts at San Francisco (82-66) and 12-4 with a 1.30 ERA in his past 19 overall matchups.Another victory would put him one shy of his second career 20-win season despite missing six weeks with an inflamed back muscle."Obviously, (this series) been marked on our calendar for awhile," Kershaw told MLB's official website. "It's nice to know they're my next start. I don't have to keep it in the back of my mind now."He'll face a lineup that's batted .314 in its last 27 games while averaging 5.6 runs but is now trying to rebound from just its fourth loss in 17 games.Posey has hit a torrid .471 with a 1.324 OPS in his last 21 contests and singled in his lone at-bat Saturday before being taken out of the rout. He's hitting .409 with a 1.109 OPS in his last seven games against the Dodgers and went 2 for 4 with an RBI double in Friday's victory.Posey, currently third in the NL with a .312 average, is 1 for 6 this season versus Kershaw, the pitcher he's faced the most in his career. The Giants catcher is 10 for 52 (.192) with 10 strikeouts, two doubles and a homer lifetime against the left-hander.Yusmeiro Petit (5-3, 3.62) will seek a third consecutive win while drawing the arduous task of facing Kershaw. The right-hander, though, hasn't been fully consistent since rejoining the rotation Aug. 28.He's 2-0 in three starts over that span and coming off his best outing of the season, a four-hitter with nine strikeouts -- one shy of his career high -- in a 5-1 win over Arizona on Tuesday.Petit will make his first start against the Dodgers since Sept. 1, 2009, when was with Arizona. He's 0-3 with a 7.11 ERA in four starts versus Los Angeles.