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Astros Head Home To Square Off With Kershaw, Dodgers

(Sports Network) - Clayton Kershaw is coming off a rough performance and was still able to keep his unbeaten streak intact. Tonight the lefty will handle pitching duties for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series against the Houston Astros from Minute Maid Park.

Kershaw allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings for a no-decision during last Wednesday's 8-5 loss versus San Francisco. He struck out six batters and is 3-0 with a 2.45 earned run average in his last four starts, with the Dodgers going 3-1 in that span.

The young southpaw, who was coming off seven shutout innings in a win over Arizona in which he fanned 11 batters, pushed his overall record to 5-3 in 10 starts to go along with a 3.09 ERA. In three career starts against Houston, Kershaw is 1-1 with a less-than-stellar 4.76 ERA.

Los Angeles is counting on Kershaw to bring the club back into the win column after it dropped the last two portions of a three-game interleague series against the Chicago White Sox over the weekend. In Sunday's 8-3 setback in the series finale from U.S.Cellular Field, Hiroki Kuroda drew the start and suffered the loss for allowing six runs -- four earned -- on nine hits, including a pair of home runs, in 5 2/3 innings.

Jerry Sands had four hits to lead LA, while Jamey Carroll, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jay Gibbons were each credited with an RBI for the Dodgers, losers in seven of their last nine games. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was still optimistic even after the loss.

"I think we're going to be fine going forward," said Mattingly.

Houston won two of three games in its first trip to Toronto over the weekend and handed the hosts a 3-2 loss on Sunday at Rogers Centre. Wandy Rodriguez was able to even his mark at 3-3 with six innings of two-run ball and worked around a few early jams. Wilton Lopez threw 1 1/3 scoreless frames before Mark Melancon nailed down his third save with 1 2/3 shutout innings.

Hunter Pence ended with two hits, including a home run, two runs scored and two RBI for the Astros, who entered the series with the Blue Jays on a five- game losing streak. Brett Wallace had two hits and an RBI in the win.

"There was a lot of tough situations," Pence said on the club's site. "We made some good defensive plays and had some great pitching by Wandy to get out of those jams early, and [Kyle] Drabek was painting the corners at 95 miles per hour and had a decent curveball that was tough to lay off of. He got me when I had some opportunities to score."

The Astros are kicking off a six-game homestand this evening versus LA and Arizona, and will send Bud Norris to the bump Monday. Norris is 0-2 in his previous three starts and was banged around in last Wednesday's 5-1 loss at St. Louis, as he allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings.

Norris, a right-hander, fell to 2-3 in nine starts with a 3.93 earned run average and hopes to remain unbeaten at home. Through five starts at Minute Maid Park in 2011, Norris is 2-0 to go along with a 2.18 ERA. He has split two career starts against the Dodgers.

Los Angeles and Houston are meeting for the first time since the Dodgers won four of six matchups a year ago. LA is 6-2 in the past eight games in this series.

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