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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, July 20 (All times Eastern)

Los Angeles Dodgers (54-45) at St. Louis Cardinals (54-44), 8:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Los Angeles - Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 1.78) St. Louis - Carlos Martinez (2-4, 4.43)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The last time Clayton Kershaw was on the mound at Busch Stadium, the Dodgers felt the wrath of being romped by the Cardinals in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

On Sunday night, the Los Angeles left-hander takes an eight-game winning streak into St. Louis with a chip on his shoulder when the Dodgers try to avoid a three-game sweep.

Kershaw's bid to win his ninth consecutive start comes a few days after he was not chosen to start in the All-Star Game. Instead, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny gave the nod to Adam Wainwright, who paces the majors with a 1.83 ERA.

Kershaw lost both of his starts in last season's NLCS to the Cardinals and struggled to a 6.30 ERA, giving up 12 hits and eight runs, seven of which were earned. Game 2 last fall saw Kershaw suffer a 1-0 loss despite him allowing only two hits over six innings at Busch Stadium. In Game 6, the contest the Cardinals clinched the series, Kershaw was rocked for 10 hits and seven runs in four-plus frames in a 9-0 final.

Over his career, Kershaw is 5-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 13 regular season starts against the Cardinals.

In his most recent start, July 10 against San Diego, Kershaw fanned 11 in a complete-game performance when he allowed only three hits. It's the third time he's gone the distance during his victory streak, which included a 41-inning scoreless innings streak that was snapped when he faced the Padres. The last loss for Kershaw came May 28 versus Cincinnati.

Carlos Martinez, who will make his seventh start and 37th appearance of 2014, counters for the Cardinals. One week ago, the 22-year-old right-hander suffered an 11-2 loss at Milwaukee when he allowed seven hits and four runs across four innings.

Martinez will make his second start this year against the Dodgers. On June 27 at Dodger Stadium, he surrendered six hits and a run over 4 1/3 innings of a no-decision. The Cardinals are 5-1 in Martinez's six starts this season.

Yesterday, Matt Adams' two-run homer powered a four-run first inning and Joe Kelly tossed seven strong frames as the Cardinals won, 4-2.

Matt Holliday hit a two-run single and Kolten Wong finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored for the Cardinals, who have won four of their last five.

Kelly (2-1) surrendered just one run on four hits with four strikeouts to earn his first win since April 5 after spending nearly three months on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain.

"I thought it was one of his better pitching performances," said Matheny about Kelly. "His secondary pitches were on today."

Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford each drove in a run for the Dodgers. Dee Gordon finished with three hits and a run scored.

Zack Greinke (11-6) gave up all four St. Louis runs on six hits and five walks across 5 2/3 frames, as the Dodgers fell one game behind San Francisco for first place in the NL West.

"Playing good baseball I think is the key more than a spark," Greinke said about the Dodgers and their aspirations to win the NL West. "You play good baseball, you're going to lose some games, but you're going to win more than you don't. I made a bunch of mistakes today, but we as a team made a bunch of mistakes also."

The Dodgers took three of four at home versus the Cardinals from June 26-29. The last time the Cardinals swept the Dodgers came in a four-game set, July 15-18, 2010 at Busch Stadium.

07/20 10:27:47 ET