Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been in baseball for quite some time, long enough to have faced and coached some of the best pitchers in the game.
But the very best, in his opinion, may be the man he's sending to the mound Sunday against the Cardinals -- left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
"I don't know if I've seen a pitcher quite like him, just the consistency day in and day out," Mattingly said.
"There's a lot of guys who have had a few good years, and then there are guys who seem to do it through their whole career. They kind of amaze you all throughout. How do you sustain that? If I was I betting on somebody, he'd be a guy I'd bet on that's going to be good for a long time."
Kershaw (8-2, 2.24 ERA) has been undeniably good of late, coming into Sunday with 21 1/3 straight scoreless innings. It'll be the southpaw's first start at Dodger Stadium since his June 18 no-hitter, and all he did to follow that up was throw eight scoreless innings in a victory at Kansas City, fanning eight. Even then, Kershaw was hard on himself afterward.
"It definitely wasn't easy. My fastball command was all over the place," he said. "Just wasn't going where I wanted it to for most of the game -- a little erratic tonight."
Even with erratic fastball command, Kansas City manager Ned Yost said Kershaw's slider was the best his team had seen all year.
Kershaw will go against a Cardinals team that has faced its fair share of elite pitching. With Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett facing them Thursday, Kershaw on Sunday and Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum scheduled for Tuesday, the Cardinals will face all three pitchers who have thrown no-hitters this year in a five-game span.
"It seems like we're getting everybody's best here recently, and we realize none of them are going to be easy," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "All of them have the potential to do special things. You don't see a streak like that as far as right there in a row. They had some good outings. But we also know we have an offense that can put together a plan to give us a good chance against anybody."
That offense had its way against Kershaw the last time it faced him, tagging the left-hander for seven runs on 10 hits in four innings in the final game of last year's National League Championship Series and knocking the Dodgers out of the playoffs in the process.
Overall, Kershaw is 4-5 against the Cardinals in 12 career starts with a 3.75 ERA. He'll face right-hander Shelby Miller, who was pulled early from his last start due to back stiffness. Miller is 7-6 with a 3.75 ERA on the year.
Cardinals: Miller expected to start
The Cardinals bullpen could be on standby Sunday.
Right-hander Shelby Miller is projected to start after dealing with tightness in his lower back this week. That tightness, which originated in his middle-upper back, forced him out of a June 24 start in Colorado. Miller lasted 2 2/3 innings in that start, allowing three earned runs and six hits and walking five.
Miller threw a bullpen session Friday with no discomfort, the Cardinals were encouraged by his body's response Saturday and decided to start him in the finale.
Dodgers: Return of Uribe provides offensive boost
Third baseman Juan Uribe missed 34 games with a strained right hamstring, but he's shown little rust since his return from the disabled list June 26.
Uribe started back-to-back games to begin the series with the Cardinals. On Thursday night, Uribe scored the team's only run in a 1-0 victory, starting an eighth-inning rally off of Adam Wainwright with a single up the middle. On Friday, Uribe didn't record a hit, but he put good swings on the ball and was robbed of extra bases on a diving catch by center fielder Jon Jay near the warning track.
"He's been good," manager Don Mattingly said. "He hit the first night, I thought. And last night he stung like three balls. He's swinging the bat well."
Uribe didn't start Saturday against the Cardinals, as Mattingly said he didn't want to push Uribe too soon, but the third baseman was called into action after Justin Turner strained his hamstring on a double in the second inning. Uribe singled in two runs in the eighth.
• Jhonny Peralta will be back at shortstop Sunday for the Cardinals after sitting out Saturday. He got the day off after starting in all but one game over the last month. He has an eight-game hitting streak.
• The Dodgers have not committed an error in nine consecutive games since June 20, which is a season-long run.
Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.