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Game 4 pitching matchups: It's all about Clayton Kershaw now

Game 4 pitching matchups: It's all about Clayton Kershaw now
Clayton Kershaw pitches in the first inning of Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Cardinals. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

This is some kind of set-up for Clayton Kershaw.

A year ago he was hammered in his last start of the year in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in St. Louis. It had to haunt him throughout the off-season.

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Then he meets the same Cardinals in the opener of this year's division series, throws six strong innings and seems to be cruising to a 6-2 victory, when he suffers a rare meltdown in the seventh and is charged with eight runs in a 10-9 loss.

Now comes this, the Dodgers back in St. Louis needing to win Tuesday to stay alive in the best-of-five series and Kershaw getting the call.

He either redeems himself or suffers an almost unimaginably cruel repeat loss.

"There's always something to prove," Kershaw said.

Kershaw will be starting on one less day of rest than normally, mostly because he's the best pitcher in baseball and the Dodgers' rotation suffers a huge drop-off after Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Manager Don Mattingly announced Kershaw would start Game 4 even before Monday's game, and his explanation was as simple as it was obvious.

"He's our best guy," Mattingly said.

Kershaw, who is expected to win his third Cy Young award this off-season, will be opposed by Cardinals' 23-year-old Shelby Miller. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 6.57 ERA lifetime against the Dodgers.

Miller went 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA during the regular season. In one start against the Dodgers, he went five innings and allowed six runs on seven hits. He later threw one inning of scoreless relief against the Dodgers.

But Kershaw went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA during the regular season, and it didn't mean a thing in the seventh inning on Friday.

Now comes another dramatic stage for Kershaw, in an almost eerily familiar setting.

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