Young right-hander Clayton Kershaw can make it nine straight wins for the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight when they head to Minute Maid Park to begin a three-game series with the Houston Astros.
The Los Angeles Dodgers haven't won nine straight since an 11-game tear from July 28- August 8, 2006.
A 21-year-old native of Dallas, Texas, Kershaw is without a decision in two sterling 105-pitch efforts thus far in 2009, tossing five innings of two-hit ball against San Diego and seven innings of one-hit ball against San Francisco.
In 12 innings overall, he's allowed two earned runs, walked five and has struck out 19.
Against the Astros in 2008, Kershaw failed to get a decision in his only start against them while allowing eight hits and a single earned run in six innings.
Overall in 2008, he was 5-5 in 22 appearances - 21 starts - with a 4.26 earned run average in 107 2/3 innings.
For Houston, veteran Russ Ortiz makes his second start of the season.
A 110-game winner in the major leagues, Ortiz joined the Astros in April after signing a minor-league deal during the offseason.
Ortiz began 2009 with a pair of relief appearances, tossing a combined five hits and three runs in four innings in Houston's losses to the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates.
He returned against the Pirates three days later, getting a no-decision after a 4 2/3-inning outing in which he surrendered five hits and three runs, walking two and striking out two.
Ortiz last faced the Dodgers in 2008, going 0-1 in two starts while giving up 15 hits and six runs in 10 1/3 innings.
On Monday in Houston, Joey Votto hit a two-run double in the seventh inning and the Cincinnati Reds held on to edge the Astros, 4-3. Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee hit back-to-back homers in the sixth inning for the Astros, who have split their last six contests.
Mike Hampton got the starting nod for Houston and gave up three runs on eight hits, while striking out five and walking one over 6 1/3 innings. Geoff Geary (0-2) suffered the loss after surrendering the eventual game-winning run in the seventh.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the Dodgers continued to roll, as Matt Kemp belted a grand slam and hit a solo home run, as Joe Torre's crew routed the Colorado Rockies, 14-2, to sweep a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
Kemp has now hit safely in all 13 games this season.
Orlando Hudson and Andre Ethier each had three RBI for the Dodgers, who have won 10 of their first 13 games.
Right-hander James McDonald allowed just four hits while fanning two and walking three in the second start of his career for the Dodgers. Scott Elbert (1-0) pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief, giving up two runs on three hits to collect the win.
Houston took four of seven from the Dodgers last season, but LA won the final three meetings.