Cardinals face uphill battle vs. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It will be a duel of left-handers Saturday night when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the St. Louis Cardinals in the second contest of a three-game series.

The Dodgers will hand the ball to veteran Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 2.32 ERA), while the Cardinals will send Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 3.81) to the mound.

Since Montgomery was acquired from the New York Yankees in August, he has lost just two road games as a member of the Cardinals. One was Montgomery’s most recent start at San Francisco on Monday when he was the hard-luck loser while allowing an unearned run over six-plus innings in a 4-0 defeat.

Montgomery’s only other road loss in a St. Louis uniform came last season in his lone career start vs. the Dodgers. It not only happened at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 24 after he yielded six runs on seven hits over four innings, it came in a start opposite Kershaw.

The Cardinals would love to see more of the same effort that Montgomery showed against the Giants in his outing on Saturday. He walked one and struck out six at San Francisco while throwing a season-high 107 pitches.

“That’s the most I’ve seen him pitch with an edge,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “He was really on, super competitive and didn’t want to come out of that game. He wanted that lefty (Mike Yastrzemski in the seventh inning) and wanted one more hitter, which is perfect. He did his job.”

The Cardinals could use a solid outing. They fell to 2-6 on a 10-game trip following a 7-3 loss to the Dodgers in the series opener on Friday. Mookie Betts and rookie Miguel Vargas each hit a home run for Los Angeles.

Kershaw has started his 16th major league season as dominating as ever. He has earned the win in each of his last three starts, giving up a combined three earned runs over 19 innings, with three walks and 19 strikeouts.

In his most recent outing Sunday against the Chicago Cubs, Kershaw gave up one run on three hits over six innings with one walk and six strikeouts. His start ended after 90 pitches as he earned the 201st win of his career.

Saturday will be Kershaw’s 20th career regular-season start against the Cardinals. He is 9-5 against them with a 2.97 ERA and has 134 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles had several players return to the roster before Friday’s game against St. Louis. Catcher Will Smith was back from the concussion injured list, while third baseman Max Muncy and right-handed reliever Brusdar Graterol returned from the paternity list.

Smith and Muncy will help an offense that has been struggling for consistency. Without both players at Pittsburgh this week, the Dodgers won just one of three games and scored a combined three runs in the defeats. The duo combined for two hits and three runs Friday.

During the most recent road trip, the Dodgers saw Betts and late-inning right-hander Evan Phillips also return from the paternity list.

“If you look at what’s transpired … the roster’s been in flux for so long,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It certainly makes more sense why we haven’t had any consistency, but when you’re mired in it, you don’t try to let that bleed into your mindset. You’re trying to figure out the 26 guys you have available that night and try to win a game. That’s where we’re at.”

–Field Level Media

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