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The Los Angeles Dodgers and host San Diego Padres will meet in the rubber match of a three-game series Sunday afternoon in what could be a classic matchup of left-handed starters.

By itself, the pairing of the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 3.00 ERA) and the Padres’ Sean Manaea (2-1, 1.42) is a great matchup.

Both pitchers flirted with history in their first hitless outings. On April 13, Kershaw worked seven perfect innings at Minnesota. On April 8, Manaea issued one walk with seven strikeouts in seven hitless innings at Arizona.

Due to the shortened spring training, neither pitcher was allowed to go for a piece of history. Manaea was pulled after 88 pitches, Kershaw after 80. After their close calls, both pitchers agreed with their manager’s decision to end their quests shy of the milestone.

“There’s a point I have to decide to what end and to what cost,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after pulling Kershaw from his perfect game. “I felt the stuff was starting to tick down after talking to Clayton.

“I’m as big a fan of Clayton as anyone, and to see a perfect game or no-hitter, I’m all in. But every decision I make is for the best interest of the player, their health and the ballclub.”

Padres manager Bob Melvin said much the same thing after pulling Manaea. Actually, Manaea was the second Padre to work a hitless start against the Diamondbacks in the season’s first two games. On Opening Day, Yu Darvish was pulled after six no-hit innings and 92 pitches in Arizona.

“I was thinking of taking Sean out after six,” Melvin said on April 8. “No thought was given to letting him go for it. No way he was going to throw the needed number of pitches after that short a spring training.”

So, we know that both Kershaw and Manaea are capable of going deep into a game without allowing a lot of hits. Kershaw has given up six hits in 12 innings thus far. Manaea has given up 10 hits in 19 innings over three starts.

And on Saturday night, the Dodgers and Padres split 10 hits equally in San Diego’s walk-off 3-2 win in 10 innings. The victory snapped the Dodgers’ 10-game winning streak against the Padres.

Offense has been a struggle for a Padres team that will be without shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. until at least mid-June.

The Padres have five starters hitting under .200 after 15 games. Rookie shortstop C.J. Abrams is batting .118, while center fielder Trent Grisham and designated hitter Luke Voit are both batting .143. Voit has struck out 15 times in his past nine games and could be headed to the injured list with a biceps strain.

The 34-year-old Kershaw has a 22-9 career record against the Padres with a 2.09 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. He has 299 strikeouts in 280 innings against the National League West rival. He also owns a 10-4 record and a 1.88 ERA in 19 starts at Petco Park.

Manaea was 0-2 record with a 5.27 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers while with the Oakland Athletics.

–Field Level Media