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Kershaw clamps down to deliver historic clincher

MLB.com @kengurnick

SAN FRANCISCO -- Clayton Kershaw took the mound Tuesday night and there was no more fooling around.

Kershaw threw a one-hit shutout in an 8-0 win and the Dodgers won the NL West, the second-greatest clinching shutout in MLB history behind Mike Scott's no-hitter for the Astros in 1986. He pitched like a man on a mission, as is often the case.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Clayton Kershaw took the mound Tuesday night and there was no more fooling around.

Kershaw threw a one-hit shutout in an 8-0 win and the Dodgers won the NL West, the second-greatest clinching shutout in MLB history behind Mike Scott's no-hitter for the Astros in 1986. He pitched like a man on a mission, as is often the case.

View Full Game Coverage

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After a four-game losing streak, Kershaw carried the Dodgers to a third consecutive division title. Even if Zack Greinke turns out to be the Cy Young winner this year, Kershaw showed he's still The Franchise.

Video: LAD@SF: Kershaw on one-hit shutout, winning division

"There was a little bit -- if we don't win this one, we've got two more [in San Francisco] and you start getting a little nervous, start panicking a little bit," said Kershaw, 16-7 with a 2.16 ERA, 294 strikeouts and a career-high three shutouts. "It's good to get it out of the way. We still have more to play for. We're fighting the Mets for home-field advantage. We weren't playing that well, but the last few innings last night we picked it up and this game we were hitting on all cylinders."

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Kershaw, who pitched the clincher against San Francisco last year at home, views the Giants more as a benchmark to emulate than a rival.

"They won three World Series in the past five years," he said. "We might have clinched the division, but they still are in a better spot than we are. That's what we're trying to get to. That's a great team. We're trying to get to where they are."

Video: LAD@SF: Dodgers clinch as Kershaw finishes shutout

For his part, Kershaw struck out 13, retired the final 19 batters and did it in 104 pitches. There would be no fifth-inning removal, like in his previous start, when he blew up at manager Don Mattingly.

"Before the ninth inning, I told him I wouldn't let him go past 110 pitches," Mattingly said of Kershaw, who had 96 pitches through eight innings. "He said, 'Whatever.' I wasn't going to let him struggle."

There was very little struggle for Kershaw in this game. He finished the ninth inning in eight more pitches for a total eight fewer than opposing ace Madison Bumgarner had in 5 2/3 innings.

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The Dodgers knocked Bumgarner out after back-to-back home runs by Justin Ruggiano and A.J. Ellis in the sixth inning, although Kershaw got an assist for his 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning that included seven fouls and ended with a ground out, but also with 100 pitches for Bumgarner.

"I started the at-bat with a big leg kick, trying to take a big swing and realized I had no chance," he said. "So I tried to spread out and be as annoying as possible. I put a long at-bat on him and that helped definitely. My approach was not to strike out. When I got two strikes I knew I wouldn't get a hit, so I just tried to be annoying."

Video: LAD@SF: Kershaw works MadBum to 13 pitches in at-bat

Kershaw didn't need to be reminded about the elephant in the celebration -- the Dodgers, and his, postseason failures.

"I've done this three times in a row, but I'd like to get a little further, obviously," he said. "I've been through it now a bunch, this is my fifth postseason now. I don't know if I'm wiser from failing all the time, but I know what that feels like. Am I wiser? I'll let you know when I get there."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw