Dominant Kershaw shuts out Rockies
Puig, A-Gon homer as offense breaks out against Oswalt
DENVER -- The Dodgers opened July by climbing out of last place for the first time since May 5, beating the Rockies Tuesday night, 8-0, behind a four-hitter from Clayton Kershaw and three-hitter from Yasiel Puig.
Kershaw (7-5, 1.93) struck out eight without a walk in his third complete game of the year, second shutout of the season and seventh for his career. He made 108 pitches and only one runner reached second base.
If that isn't enough to earn the All-Star Game start, it was good enough for the Dodgers' ninth win in the last 10 games, during which they've made up seven games in the standings. They gave up the cellar to the San Francisco Giants, pulled into a tie with third-place San Diego, trail second-place Colorado by one game and first-place Arizona by 2 1/2 games.
"Serious?" asked Matt Kemp.
"For me, it's just knowing we're in the race," said manager Don Mattingly. "There's a long way to go. It doesn't matter if we're a game up or a game back at the break, there's a ton of games left. We've gotten ourselves back in it.
"When we were nine or 10 back, that's a dangerous spot because you hit a bad spell and you're in deep trouble. We're back in it, we can see the front."
Kershaw brought a 5.68 Coors Field ERA into this game and came out of it with the 36th shutout by an opponent in the ballpark's history and only the third without a walk.
"For somebody who usually doesn't feel comfortable here, he was in complete command," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "He's got so many weapons and had everything working."
Has Kershaw finally figured the place out?
"Just don't walk guys," he said. "You never want to, but here it seems like they're going to score every time. Go right at guys. Let them get their hits. That's a lot harder than giving them walks."
The Dodgers offense included a two-run homer from Adrian Gonzalez, a pair of RBI singles from Juan Uribe, a pair of doubles and walks from A.J. Ellis, Hanley Ramirez's hitting streak reaching 13 games and, of course, more craziness from Puig.
"This lineup right now is tough to get through and Puig right now is on another planet," said Kershaw. "You keep thinking he can't keep this up. He hits the ball really hard everywhere."
Puig is bound to be named NL player of the month for June on Wednesday, with an All-Star berth in play. This was another one of those remarkable games in which he singled, doubled, homered (No. 8), scored twice, was caught stealing, struck out twice and made a sprinting catch on the warning track in foul ground look easy.
"It looked easy, but it was dangerous," Mattingly said, noting Puig's proximity to the brick wall. "How he does that at full speed, I don't know."
But Puig does everything at full speed and nobody is really sure how he does any of it, but they sure do enjoy it. So Puig was asked about all the All-Star buzz.
Through an interpreter, Puig said he "didn't care" if he made the All-Star team or its Home-Run Derby.
"I just want the team to win," he said. "If the fans vote for me, okay. It's up to the fans and the people in charge."
Puig went 3-for-5 for his 15th multi-hit game and eighth with three or more on the heels of a four-hit game Sunday, raising his average to .443. His home run came on a 1-2 pitch after he looked foolish swinging and missing on a slider down and far away. But Puig doesn't carry one at-bat to another, or one bad swing to the next pitch.
"I prepare for every pitch," he said. "I know I have three strikes each at-bat and I take them pitch by pitch and hit them as they come."
In the home clubhouse, Todd Helton, who once hit .372 to win a batting title in 2000 and was at .397 as late as Aug. 28, was asked how far-fetched it would be for Puig to maintain a .400-plus pace the rest of the way.
"You think not, but who knows?" Helton said. "The way he swung tonight, he damn well might. He's a physical specimen. From what I've seen in one game, he's got a pretty simple swing that is probably pretty easy to repeat."