By MATT BECKER
(AP) -- Clayton Kershaw is set to take the ball Friday night in Arizona, and his next start could come in Tuesday's All-Star game.
The Diamondbacks probably feel he is deserving of getting the nod in the Midsummer Classic.
Kershaw looks to continue his dominance in the series and help the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers to a fourth consecutive victory, while sputtering Arizona seeks to avoid a seventh straight defeat.
Kershaw (6-4, 2.65 ERA) was a runaway winner for the NL Cy Young last year, leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts. Although his record isn't too impressive this season, that's largely due to spotty run support, and he still ranks seventh in the NL in ERA and is tied for fifth with 112 strikeouts.
His body of work makes him a strong candidate to start the All-Star game, and he enters Friday having compiled a 1.71 ERA over his last three starts. Against the New York Mets on Sunday, he permitted three runs - one earned - and five hits while striking out nine in seven innings of an 8-3 victory, his first in four starts.
"I don't care what Clayton's record is. I'll take him any day of the week against anybody," manager Don Mattingly told the Dodgers' official website. "I think, if he's not the best pitcher in baseball, I think he's right there."
The Diamondbacks (39-43) would probably agree.
In eight starts against Arizona since 2010, Kershaw is 7-1 with a 1.23 ERA. He hasn't allowed a run in half of those starts - including May 14, when the left-hander yielded four hits and three walks over seven innings of a 3-1 win.
Los Angeles (47-37) won Thursday's series opener 4-1 for its third straight victory following a 2-12 stretch. Scott Van Slyke and Elian Herrera each stepped up with a solo home run for the banged-up Dodgers, who moved 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place San Francisco and seven in front of third-place Arizona.
Prior to Thursday's game, Los Angeles put shortstop Dee Gordon - the major league leader with 30 steals - on the disabled list with a thumb injury. He joins a lengthy list of sidelined Dodgers, including star outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, both of whom Mattingly hopes to have back soon after the break.
"These are our guys," Mattingly said. "We're just kind of scratching for every win we can get right now."
The Diamondbacks aren't experiencing the same good fortune, having been outscored 39-17 during their six-game skid.
"It is a broken record but we will get back," manager Kirk Gibson said.
Justin Upton is hitting .130 with no RBIs during the skid after batting .467 with 10 RBIs in his previous eight games. It seems unlikely he'll be able to break out of his slump Friday, considering he is 1 for 21 with eight strikeouts lifetime against Kershaw.
Arizona counters with Josh Collmenter (0-2, 4.41), who could be making one of his last starts with Joe Saunders expected to return after the All-Star break.
Collmenter has been solid in a pair of spot starts recently, allowing two runs and six hits while striking out 11 over 10 innings. It's been a stark contrast from April, when he recorded a 9.82 ERA in four starts and was moved to the bullpen.
The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings in a relief appearance against the Dodgers in May, but was 1-2 with an 8.25 ERA in three starts against them last year.
Updated July 6, 2012