Kershaw to 2-0 as Dodgers shut out Pirates
LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw followed his Opening Day shutout with another gem as the Dodgers beat the Pirates, 1-0, on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw struck out nine against one walk and allowed only two Starling Marte singles. The left-hander, who held the Giants to four hits in his 2013 debut, extended his scoreless streak to 20 innings, dating back to Oct. 3.
"Unbelievable," said third baseman Luis Cruz. "He's amazing."
Following Marte's leadoff single in the first inning, Kershaw recorded 17 consecutive outs before the outfielder reached on an infield hit in the sixth on a bang-bang play.
Kershaw struck out four straight between the fifth and sixth innings, and had four frames with multiple punchouts. He threw 97 pitches.
"It's hard to say you've seen him pitch better when he hasn't given up any runs," manager Don Mattingly said. "But we've seen stretches where he's pretty much like this every time out. He's obviously throwing the ball good. He's been really good."
The Dodgers needed another dominant performance from their ace, as the offense was stymied by Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett, who allowed one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out nine with four walks.
"That's a pitchers' duel right there," Burnett said. "I was going up against one of the best, so I tried to follow what he was doing. It was my first time pitching against him -- the first time really seeing him. It fires me up to be in a game like that."
Mark Ellis provided the Dodgers all the runs they needed with a single in the third inning, the second baseman's first RBI of the year. Carl Crawford scored from second base on Ellis' liner to left field after reaching on an infield hit and stealing second, his second steal of the night.
In Kershaw's two starts, the Dodgers have managed only five runs. They've scored in only two innings. But the lefty hasn't let the offense's woes change his demeanor on the mound.
"It doesn't affect anything for me," Kershaw said. "I'm trying to not let them score any runs regardless of if we're winning 10-0 or 1-0. The way I'm trying to pitch doesn't change, regardless of the score."
The Dodgers' offensive issues haven't reached Crawford, though. He continued his strong start at the plate with his third multi-hit game. Crawford's been a catalyst at the top of the lineup and given the Dodgers exactly what they envisioned when they traded for him in August.
"Carl just keeps rolling along," Mattingly said. "I think we're seeing little glimpses of what everybody else was seeing for a while. We see the speed and really what Carl can cause."
Still, the Dodgers had plenty of opportunities to tack on insurance runs and came up empty. Their best chance came in the sixth inning. The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out, only to see Cruz pop out and Justin Sellers ground out.
Cruz and Sellers both went 0-for-4, remaining hitless on the season.
"I just feel a little bit different, like jumpy and not selective," Cruz said. "I think it's part of the game. I'll be fine. I still have to go out and play defense. We have a lot of good pitching, so defense means a lot to us."
A night after recording his first hit of the season, Matt Kemp went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He also grounded into a double play to end the seventh inning.
Mattingly isn't worried about his star center fielder. He believes it's only a matter of time before Kemp finds himself at the plate.
"The track-record guys you don't really worry about," the manager said. "I know Matt's going to hit. I know Matt's going to stay after it and he'll hit."
Three Dodgers relievers combined for two scoreless innings to preserve Kershaw's second win of the season. Paco Rodriguez and Kenley Jansen each had a strikeout in the eighth, and closer Brandon League recorded his second save in as many nights.
Andre Ethier extended his hit streak to five games with a single to right in the fourth inning. The outfielder is the only Dodgers player with a hit in each game this season.
Los Angeles ran its home win streak against Pittsburgh to eight games, dating back to Sept. 16, 2011.
"We won the series all ready, so it's a big win for us," Kershaw said. "We have to come out tomorrow and close out the series."