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'Courageous' Kershaw pitches in pain for win

MLB.com @kengurnick

SAN FRANCISCO -- Clayton Kershaw said he wasn't worried about the bruised right calf he pitched seven innings with in Tuesday night's 2-1 victory over the Giants, which made him the only Dodger who wasn't worried.

"I don't want to be too over the top," said manager Dave Roberts, "but it was a courageous effort. When he pitches, it's one of our most stressful days. It's a day we need to win."

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Clayton Kershaw said he wasn't worried about the bruised right calf he pitched seven innings with in Tuesday night's 2-1 victory over the Giants, which made him the only Dodger who wasn't worried.

"I don't want to be too over the top," said manager Dave Roberts, "but it was a courageous effort. When he pitches, it's one of our most stressful days. It's a day we need to win."

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Kershaw did what Kershaw does, allowing one tainted run over seven innings, and doing it hurt. He took a sharp grounder by Hunter Pence, the first batter he faced, off his calf. Athletic trainers had to rub it and heat it and wrap it to keep Kershaw in the game. When he grounded out in the third inning, he pulled up limping, and he was still limping on the taped leg after Kenley Jansen's third four-out save of the season, trying to convince reporters that it was no big deal.

"It just grabbed, my right leg, not my push-off leg, so pitching is fine," said Kershaw, who gets an extra day to recover because Julio Urias will be inserted into the rotation. "I tried to move fast for me, pushed off and it didn't feel great, but I'm not worried about it. It got me in the perfect spot, the belly of the calf. Just annoying, something I'll deal with."

Video: LAD@SF: Kershaw hit by Pence's comebacker, gets out

There was plenty for Kershaw (4-1) to deal with to raise his record against the Giants to 19-8 and at AT&T Park to 11-4.

That scoreless first inning was extended an extra 10 pitches when Kershaw picked Christian Arroyo off first base, but second baseman Chris Taylor missed the tag. In the third inning, opposing pitcher Ty Blach, filling in for the injured Madison Bumgarner, doubled over a shallow outfield. Taylor didn't charge an infield single by Pence and a two-out grounder by Buster Posey eluded diving shortstop Corey Seager for the run.

Then Kershaw retired 13 of the last 15 he faced, leaving a one-run game after 90 pitches. The struggling Dodgers offense turned the game around with a two-run fourth inning on an RBI single by Yasiel Puig and an aggressive run scored by Justin Turner, atoning for a baserunning mistake to end Monday night's loss by hustling home from third for the decisive run when the Giants couldn't execute a play at the plate.

Turner said when you run the bases aggressively, sometimes you look like a donkey and sometimes you win a game. He also said that what Kershaw did while hurt was a pretty big deal.

"Obviously, that probably didn't feel great. I've had that," Turner said. "It stinks. So to go seven with a banged up calf, just add it to his legacy, add it to his ridiculousness. He demands perfection out of himself. He's a competitor. He's just a whole other animal. He wants to win more than anyone every time on the mound."

Roberts said he sort of held his breath all seven innings, weighing the importance of winning this game with the concern about putting Kershaw at future risk and knowing the left-hander wouldn't leave early without a fight anyway.

Kershaw seemed more annoyed with his pitching, saying he had to grind through it because "when I wanted to throw something the way I wanted to it didn't always happen."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw