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MIA@SF: Kershaw fans seven in loss to Padres

Let the battles begin.

The National League West has been as tight as a subway train during rush hour this season, but the standings could start to take form over the next two weeks, when division rivals will be seeing a lot of each other.

The Dodgers and the Rockies, who begin a three-game set on Tuesday in Denver, play their next 13 games before the All-Star break against NL West foes.

The streaking Dodgers have won eight of their last nine and are just four games behind the first-place D-backs.

"We've kind of got ourselves back to respectability here, in a sense," said manager Don Mattingly. "We can see the front of the pack. Now we have to go take care of business and continue to win at a high rate.

"They're all going to be dogfights."

The Dodgers hand the ball to a pitcher who is in the middle of a historic start to his career. Clayton Kershaw's 2.71 ERA in 1,065 1/3 innings is the lowest mark in the live ball era among all pitchers with 1,000 innings or more. And he's been even better this year.

In 121 1/3 innings, the lefty has struck out 118 batters while holding opponents to a .193 average.

But Coors Field is unforgivable to even the best pitchers. In 11 starts in Colorado, Kershaw has allowed 11 homers while posting a 5.68 ERA.

Kershaw will need to stop a dangerous Rockies lineup still without Troy Tulowitzki, but led by Michael Cuddyer, who dramatically extended his Major League-best hitting streak to 27 games in his final at-bat on Sunday with a single up the middle.

Cuddyer is having an All-Star-caliber season, posting a .344/.393/.590 slash line with 14 homers and 48 RBIs.

"It's been fun watching him do this," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's nice to see him get some recognition. He's a great player."

The Rockies, who are two games behind the D-backs, have lost six of their last 10. They had the worst ERA in the Majors during June, posting a 4.52 mark.

If veteran Roy Oswalt can turn a corner, he would provide a huge boost.

"It's very evident that there's still a lot left with him in the two outings he's had for us," said Weiss. "There's still a lot of life in the arm. And the ability to make pitches, it's all there."

Oswalt, who takes the mound Tuesday, hasn't found much success in his first two starts, but the 34-year-old said his body is feeling strong.

"I felt like both starts were actually better than what it turned out to be, but that's baseball," said Oswalt, who has a 7.36 ERA. "Maybe the next two starts I'll get some lucky breaks. The first two, I had some breaks here and there that didn't go my way. But I'll keep throwing strikes, make them hit the ball and see what happens."

Dodgers: Reinforcements providing a boost
The Dodgers are 15-11 since adding Yasiel Puig on June 3.

The Cuban sensation finished June with 44 hits, putting his name next to Joe DiMaggio's with a record month. His 44 hits were most for a Dodgers rookie in a month since the club moved to Los Angeles in 1958 and second in baseball history in the first month of a career only to DiMaggio's debut with the Yankees in May 1936.

Hanley Ramirez has also provided a spark with his healthy play. He enters with a 12-game hitting streak in which he's hit five homers and driven in 15 runs.

Rockies: Fowler decision looming
Dexter Fowler, who hasn't played since last Tuesday with a sore right wrist, will likely be placed on the 15-day disabled list if he's not ready to play on Tuesday.

"He's definitely better," Weiss said Sunday. "Hopefully, with the off-day on Monday, he'll be ready to go. We'll reevaluate him then."

Worth noting
• The Dodgers added another young power arm to their bullpen on Sunday, promoting rookie Chris Withrow from Triple-A Albuquerque and designating veteran Matt Guerrier for assignment. Comments