Series preview: Dodgers at Padres

SAN DIEGO – Clayton Kershaw had a good response when somebody asked him about dominating the team that has been one of his more difficult matchups in recent years, the Arizona Diamondbacks, on Wednesday.

“It’s a totally different team,” Kershaw said.

That goes, too, for the San Diego Padres, another NL West team the Dodgers have had their way with that rebooted through midseason trades and by calling up prospects. The Dodgers took two of three from San Diego last week, but the Padres had a very different feel with Rymer Liriano and Yangervis Solarte in the lineup.

Like a lot of young teams, the Padres are unpredictable. Since the teams’ last series, San Diego lost two of three in third-place Arizona and took two of three from the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. Overall, the Dodgers have won nine of the 13 meetings with San Diego, part of their domination of the bottom-feeders in the NL West. The Dodgers are 30-12 combined vs. the Padres, Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.

Friday is another big start for Dan Haren, who has pitched well this month, since San Diego is sending Andrew Cashner to the mound. Cashner has good stuff and has been tough on the Dodgers in the past. He’ll be making his second start after missing two months with shoulder soreness. He went five innings against Arizona, giving up two runs on seven hits and, interestingly, striking out just one batter.

Haren has won three of his last four starts, including strong outings against potential playoff teams in the Angels and Atlanta Braves. His bounce-back has been key for the Dodgers, who are dealing with injuries to Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke, through Greinke is pitching through elbow discomfort. They’ve also had uneven performances lately from the two pitchers they traded for, Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia.

Greinke (13-8, 2.79 ERA) will pitch Saturday evening for the Dodgers, who will face Ian Kennedy (10-11, 3.75). On Sunday, the Dodgers will start either Hernandez or Ryu, who would be returning from a relatively short stint on the disabled list for two strained buttocks muscles. The Dodgers on Sunday will face soft-tossing lefty Eric Stults, who baffled them in his last outing at Dodger Stadium.