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LAD@ARI: Kershaw strikes out nine in solid start

With an overworked bullpen and an offense that is having trouble hitting with runners in scoring position, the Dodgers are finding out that they have little room for error.

"Our problem, again, is basically just not getting guys in," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said on Tuesday. "It's not being able to get the runs on the board. It's not a matter of being able to get enough guys out there."

Luckily, the team will have ace Clayton Kershaw on the hill on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium to clean up the mess and brush aside the possibility of a three-game sweep at the hands of the Padres.

The left-hander has been brilliant so far this season, compiling a 2-1 record with a 1.16 ERA in three starts.

After opening the season with two wins and 16 scoreless innings, Kershaw took a loss on Friday against the D-backs, allowing three runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings. Striking out nine in that contest, Kershaw comes into Wednesday's game just one strikeout shy of becoming the 13th Dodgers pitcher to reach 1,000.

With 999 strikeouts in 967 1/3 innings, Kershaw should easily top Sandy Koufax's modern Dodgers record of reaching 1,000 K's in his first 989 2/3 innings.

That's some tough competition for Padres right-hander Tyson Ross, who will make his third start of the season after being acquired from the A's during a four-player trade in the offseason.

The 25-year-old made his Petco Park debut on Friday against the Rockies, allowing three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings for a no-decision. Ross tied a career-high in the game by striking out eight batters.

Unable to retire any of the first six batters he faced to begin the game, Ross then found quite a groove, retiring each of the next 12 batters he faced -- seven via strikeout.

Padres: Headley return imminent
San Diego third baseman Chase Headley could be back in the Padres starting lineup for Wednesday's game at Dodger Stadium.

Headley, who fractured the tip of his left thumb on March 17 during a Spring Training game, played in his fourth Minor League game in five days on Tuesday, playing for the Class A Lake Elsinore Storm.

"Possibly," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We're going to see how it goes."

If he doesn't return on Wednesday, Headley will most certainly be back in the lineup on Friday when the Padres open a three-game series in San Francisco.

Dodgers: Crawford's arm getting stronger
Outfielder Carl Crawford continues to build arm strength following offseason Tommy John Surgery, enough for Dodgers trainers to allow him to throw to the bag when the situation calls for it.

"I'm glad to hear that, actually, because I think as much as anything, he's been throwing the ball pretty good," Mattingly said before Tuesday's game against the Padres. "I just don't think he's been feeling like he should be letting it go. So when the trainers tell him it's OK, I think it makes you feel better as a player. You can turn it loose."

Opponents have continued to test Crawford's surgically repaired left elbow in recent games. On Sunday in Arizona, A.J. Pollack stretched a double in the ninth inning and later scored to win the game. On Monday, Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso stretched a ground ball to left field into a double in the fifth inning.

Worth noting
• Dodgers reliever Shawn Tolleson received an epidural injection for a bulging disk in his lower back on Tuesday and said he hopes to resume throwing within two weeks.

• Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin, serving an eight-game suspension for his role in Thursday's fracas with the Dodgers, is working out with Lake Elsinore. Quentin, who can't play in Minor League games while suspended, is eligible to return to the Padres on April 23 against the Brewers at Petco Park. Comments