While Clayton Kershaw did not flirt with a no-hitter or perfect game in his return from the disabled list, he overwhelmed the San Diego Padres in six innings of work to help the Los Angeles Dodgers snap their season-high five-game losing streak.
Manuel Margot’s soft chopper in the first inning resulted in a leadoff infield single as Chase Utley was unable to make a barehanded play. Kershaw induced more weak contact en route to retiring the next three batters.
It was a sign of things to come for the Padres. The three-time Cy Young Award winner didn’t allow another hit until Yangervis Solarte’s leadoff single in the fifth. Kershaw retired 12 consecutive batters between singles.
While he made better contact than Margot, Solarte only reached by virtue of beating out Chris Taylor’s throw from deep in the hole at shortstop.
The infield single was followed by Kershaw retiring the final six batters faced to put the finishing touches on his stellar performance. Prior to the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts set a “baseline” of five innings or 75 pitches for his ace.
Kershaw was efficient throughout, needing just 70 pitches (53 strikeouts) to get through six shutout innings. “Efficiency-wise, I think it was as good as you could have expected or hoped,” Kershaw said.
He collected seven strikeouts without issuing a walk, and improved to 16-2 this season while lowering his ERA and WHIP to 1.95 and 0.86, respectively. Padres rookie starter Dinelson Lamet did his part to spoil Kershaw’s return.
The right-hander struck out 10 in six innings and kept the game knotted in a scoreless tie until his final frame of work. Singles by Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger put two on with nobody out.
Lamet nearly escaped the small jam but gave up a two-out RBI single to Utley on a 1-2 pitch. Brandon Morrow, Tony Watson and Kenley Jansen combined for six strikeouts across three perfect innings.