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National League Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, August 4th (All times eastern)

Chicago Cubs (43-61) at Los Angeles Dodgers (57-50), 9:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Chicago - Chris Volstad (0-7, 7.94) Los Angeles - Clayton Kershaw (8-6, 2.95)

(Sports Network) - Clayton Kershaw proved why he is one of the top pitchers in the game his last time out, but set the bar rather high with his second shutout of the season and fifth in his career.

Kershaw looks to duplicate his latest performance tonight against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner was hammered for eight runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings of an 8-2 loss at St. Louis on July 24, then shut down San Francisco on Sunday.

The young left-hander held the rival Giants to five hits, struck out seven and issued one walk to lift his 2012 mark to 8-6 in 22 starts and lower his earned run average to 2.95. Kershaw, who is 5-3 in 12 home outings and has alternated his last eight decisions, will face the Cubs for the fourth time in his career. He is 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA over the first three starts in this series.

Los Angeles opened this three-game set with a 6-1 win last night thanks to a strong effort from starting pitcher Chad Billingsley. The right-hander struck out seven batters and allowed one run in seven innings before Brandon League and Shawn Tolleson each threw a scoreless inning of relief.

"That was about the best command of his fastball and cutter that I've seen him have," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He's always had good stuff, but I think that was the best command I've seen him have with his hard stuff."

A.J. Ellis recorded his first career multi-homer game and Hanley Ramirez stroked a two-run single and scored a run for the Dodgers, who halted a three- game slide to win for the fourth time in 10 tries. Los Angeles is 1-3 on a nine-game homestand and remained one-half game behind San Francisco for the NL West lead.

Dodgers outfielder Shane Victorino, who the club acquired from Philadelphia on Tuesday, recorded his first hit as a Dodger with a one-out single in the seventh. Before the game, the Dodgers acquired pitcher Joe Blanton from the Phillies in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

The Cubs have lost three in a row and five of eight games, and couldn't get much going last night. Luis Valbuena had the lone RBI and one of four hits for the Cubs, who opened a six-game trip on a sour note.

Jeff Samardzija drew the start for Chicago and allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"I wasn't very consistent," Samardzija said. "A couple of mistakes on my part and that was the difference in the game. You leave the ball over the plate, they'll make you pay for it."

Chicago will visit San Diego for three games after this series and is still a decent 19-13 since late June. The Cubs are 2-1-1 in their last four road series after going 1-9-3 in their first 13 series of the 2012 season. They hope to reach four runs tonight since the team owns a 32-18 mark in the 50 games when doing so. The Cubs are 11-43 with three runs or less.

Still in search of his first win since last July 10 versus Houston, Chris Volstad gets the nod for the Cubs tonight. Volstad is 0-7 with a 7.94 earned run average in his nine starts this season and was tagged for six runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings of a 10-3 setback to Atlanta on July 3.

Volstad, who was called up from Triple-A Iowa after Maholm and Ryan Dempster were traded, has yielded at least three runs in each of his trips to the mound in 2012. The right-hander lost to the Dodgers on May 5, when he gave up five runs in five innings of a 5-1 loss, and is 3-4 with a 5.01 ERA in seven career starts against them.

Volstad has made four road starts this season, going 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA.

Chicago won two of three over L.A. in the Windy City back in May.

08/04 10:41:38 ET

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