CHICAGO -- Seven scoreless innings, and Clayton Kershaw sounded almost apologetic after pitching the Dodgers to a 1-0 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night.
"I was a little rusty tonight," said Kershaw, who hadn't pitched since a July 9 complete-game win over the Royals in the final game before the All-Star break. "The fastball command wasn't great, it got a little better as the game went. Nine days off definitely is not something I'm used to. I'm thankful to get out of that unscathed, and glad we won."
Because Kershaw pitched on the Sunday before the break, the ace was ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. But the Dodgers then skipped past him for the three-game series in Miami coming out of the break to give his arm an extended rest.
"I still believe the layoff was the best thing for him, and for us, in the long term," manager Dave Roberts said. "It's a decision we made, and we still feel good about it."
Rusty or not, Kershaw notched his MLB-high 15th win and lowered his ERA to 2.07. It was his 77th career start without allowing an earned run, the most among active pitchers and most since at least 1913 by a pitcher not yet 30 years old. In his last five starts, the left-hander is 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA, 51 strikeouts and six walks.
The Dodgers have won Kershaw's last 14 starts, a franchise record. He's 11-0 in those 14 starts, and is 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA on the road this season.
It was Kershaw's 141st career victory, tying Fernando Valenzuela for sixth on the franchise's all-time wins list.
Kershaw allowed seven singles and struck out seven. The White Sox put runners in scoring position in four of Kershaw's innings, and the ace had just one 1-2-3 inning.
Kershaw had only a first-inning run to work with, scored by Chris Taylor on a Cody Bellinger single. There was a throwing error by shortstop Corey Seager, a catcher's interference by Yasmani Grandal and Kershaw was called for a balk by first-base umpire and crew chief Jeff Kellogg for leaning toward home while picking off Avisail Garcia.
"Still, seven innings scoreless, and he pitched out of jams created by errors and soft contact," Roberts said. "He still pitched his way out of it, and made pitches when he needed to. He really wasn't synced up tonight. The last four or five starts, he's been dominant. It's all relative to Clayton, because he's so special. When he's not synced up, you think something's wrong. But he is human, he's not perfect, but he finds a way to go out there and give us quality innings."
During their current 10-game win streak, Dodgers starters are 10-0 with a 1.41 ERA and are limiting opponents to a .189 batting average.