Kershaw again shines in victory over Phillies
PHILADELPHIA - Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw never thinks about throwing a no-hitter.
"It's tough to do," he said after combining with Brandon League on a three-hit, 5-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night. "You can't ever think about that as a pitcher."
Others were thinking about it, when he retired the first 12 Phillies he faced. Kershaw (12-7) wound up pitching eight innings and allowing all three hits, as Los Angeles won its 10th straight game.
Juan Uribe hit a three-run homer and Kershaw doubled home a run for the Dodgers, who blanked the Phillies for the second consecutive night and won for the 42nd time in their last 50 games. That is the majors' best stretch since St. Louis also went 42-8 in 1942, and Los Angeles' 10-game streak is its longest since 2006.
"Kershaw's pretty good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly deadpanned. "He's a horse. Every time he goes, he's pretty much given the bullpen the night off. He continues to either stop a streak or extend a streak, every time he pitches."
And what of a no-hitter?
"When we least expect it, it will probably happen," Mattingly said.
Philadelphia fell to 0-2 under interim manager Ryne Sandberg, who replaced the fired Charlie Manuel on Friday. The Phillies have dropped four straight and 21 of their last 25.
"When you're facing the best, you kind of get a gauge of where you are," Sandberg said.
Kershaw, who struck out eight and walked one, was perfect until Domonic Brown singled to lead off the fifth. He later picked Brown off first base.
The only other hits off the 25-year-old left-hander were a sixth-inning single by John Mayberry Jr. and an eighth-inning double by Casper Wells.
"I had pretty decent fastball command tonight," said Kershaw, whose ERA is a major league-best 1.80. "I was able to throw the ball to both sides of the plate. I felt good."
"He dominated the strike zone," Sandberg said, "got ahead of the hitters and mixed his pitches."
Kershaw, protecting a 2-0 lead, walked Mayberry after Wells doubled. He retired Erik Kratz on a pop-up for the inning's second out, and before pinch hitter Carlos Ruiz batted Mattingly visited the mound.
"I don't think I was in jeopardy of coming out," Kershaw said.
"I just wanted to make sure he was good," Mattingly said. "It's his (batter). (You) make sure he wants it. More than anything you make sure he's good."
Kershaw wild-pitched the runners into scoring position, but struck out Ruiz to end the threat.
Uribe then extended the Dodgers' lead to 5-0 with his three-run shot off reliever Luis Garcia in the ninth, and League retired the Phils in order in the bottom of the inning.
It was Kershaw's first career victory over the Phillies, against whom he had been 0-4. It was also the 16th shutout of the season for the Dodgers, who began the night tied with Cleveland for the major league lead. Philadelphia, which has scored fewer runs than all but two teams, was blanked for the 12th time. It is the most the Phillies have been shut out in a season since 1991.
Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (10-10) allowed two runs (one earned) and seven hits over six innings. He struck out one and didn't walk a batter, but was aided by four double plays behind him.
The Dodgers scored a first-inning run on an error by Mayberry, who is normally an outfielder but was making his fifth start of the season at first base.
Kershaw added his RBI double in the fifth, making it 2-0.
NOTES: Sandberg said before the game that his second day on the job felt like "back to business" and added, "We want to improve. It starts with work and routine and starts with players playing on the field. ... The last nine years (under his predecessor, Charlie Manuel) set a standard that is remarkable and impressive. For me and these players, it should be our goal to get back to that." ... Sandberg also said he had received 185 congratulatory text messages since assuming his new position, some from high school friends. "How they got my number, I have no idea," he said. ... Phillies 3B Michael Young left the game after two innings with left ankle soreness, but Sandberg said it is not believed to be serious.