LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers needed Clayton Kershaw to play the role of stopper Sunday afternoon -- and did he ever. Not only did Kershaw put a halt to Los Angeles' six-game losing streak, he tossed a three-hit shutout, struck out 14 and provided the offense as well in a
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers needed Clayton Kershaw to play the role of stopper Sunday afternoon -- and did he ever. Not only did Kershaw put a halt to Los Angeles' six-game losing streak, he tossed a three-hit shutout, struck out 14 and provided the offense as well in a 1-0 victory over San Diego.
Even by Kershaw's lofty standards, this was a brilliant performance. The Dodgers ace surrendered just three singles in his 13th career shutout. Only two of the 27 outs he recorded even reached the outfield.
"That's as dominant as I've seen him," manager Dave Roberts said. "As prepared and as much conviction as he has every fifth day, knowing what we were going through as a team, you talk about great players putting their team on their backs. That's what he did today. He won't say that, but that's exactly what happened."
Of course, the Dodgers had to score to get Kershaw his victory, and he took care of that himself, knocking in the lone run of the afternoon with a third-inning single. It marked the eighth time in his career that Kershaw has recorded an RBI during a game in which the Dodgers' opponent was held scoreless.
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The Padres got an extremely impressive effort from their own southpaw, Drew Pomeranz, who lowered his ERA to 2.48 with seven innings of one-run ball. It's been a fantastic start to the season for Pomeranz, who didn't clinch his rotation spot until the final week of Spring Training. On Sunday, Pomeranz said he made one mistake, a cutter that A.J. Ellis launched to center field for a double. Ellis would score on Kershaw's RBI.
"There's not really much to say," Pomeranz said. "I threw a bad pitch to Ellis and Kershaw bounced one up the middle, and that's the game, I guess."
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Puig's arm also pretty good: Kershaw lost his perfect game in the fifth inning, but he continued his streak of facing the minimum, thanks to Yasiel Puig's arm. Alexei Ramirez singled to the right-field corner and kept running to second, thinking he had a double. Puig's throw to Corey Seager showed otherwise, nailing Ramirez and ending the inning. It was Puig's third assist of the season, tying him for the Major League lead among outfielders.
"You're not threatening much, you've got two outs, if [Ramirez] is standing on first base just happy he had a single after that, that's not what we want," said Padres manager Andy Green. "He's got to take a chance there. Didn't play out; tip your cap. But you've got to be aggressive."
Leave 'em hanging:Trayce Thompson doubled to left with one out in the fifth, but Pomeranz managed to escape the threat. Seager launched a loud out to the right-field warning track, before Kershaw went down swinging to end the threat.
"The only way to get better is when you know you're going out there, and they're not going to pull you out the second danger comes," Pomeranz said. "It just makes you a better pitcher, mentally and all-around." More >
Just a light stretch: Kershaw ran into his only trouble in the seventh inning, when back-to-back singles from Wil Myers and Matt Kemp gave the Padres runners on the corners, their only baserunners of the game. Kershaw had no trouble negating them while pitching out of the stretch, striking out Melvin Upton Jr. and forcing a high fly ball from Derek Norris.
"When your starting pitcher holds them to one run, at some point in time, there has to be a complete disregard for how good their guy is on the mound," said Green. "Just rise up and beat him. … Now, Clayton Kershaw is outstanding, we get that. But we're better and we've got to be better."
Sigh of relief: Padres relievers had been hit hard entering the series in Los Angeles, and they got off to a rough start, with Brad Hand allowing a homer to the first batter he faced Friday night. After that? The bullpen tossed eight scoreless frames at Dodger Stadium, including one Sunday, with two strikeouts from Hand.
"After that last start, he was ready to atone. From that day on, I wouldn't want to be that opponent because he had that look in his eye. Especially now, accentuated by our losing streak. He wasn't going to be denied." -- Roberts, on Kershaw
"He was obviously great. You saw the game, it's a two-hour game, complete game. He definitely did his part today. ... I didn't have very good at-bats today, saw some pitches, just wasn't able to put the ball in play. But we won a series, we've got to be ready to play tomorrow." -- Padres center fielder Jon Jay
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In his last nine starts vs. San Diego, dating back to September 2013, Kershaw is 6-0 with a 0.98 ERA. More >
Padres: The Friars open a three-game set against Colorado on Monday at 7:10 p.m. PT, with James Shields on the hill. Shields is coming off his best outing of the season, and four of his five starts have been quality. But the Padres' offense has scored six times in his outings, and he remains in search of win No. 1.
Dodgers: The Dodgers are off Monday and then will take part in some Interleague action on Tuesday. Scott Kazmir will take the mound against the Rays, his original MLB team, with first pitch scheduled for 4:10 p.m. PT.
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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com.
Jack Baer is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles.