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Kershaw comes up big again as Dodgers beat Reds

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- A day after he hit a home run against his former team, Cincinnati Reds left fielder Xavier Paul was relegated back to the bench on Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He was able to sit back and take a familiar seat for the show -- albeit just across the infield -- to watch Clayton Kershaw pitch.

And with Kershaw on the mound, it is most certainly a show.

Paul, the former Dodger who watched his Reds fall 2-1 on Friday night at Dodger Stadium, is still waiting to see Kershaw break his glare.

"I've never seen him get hit consistently hard," Paul said. "A hit every now and then, here or there. But you never see a barrage of hits. He's just that caliber. Every time I see him pitch, I tip my cap to him."

With Kershaw on the mound this season, the Dodgers haven't felt the need to hit much this year, and once again the spectacular southpaw hoisted the offense onto his shoulders. A day after Cincinnati ended Los Angeles' six-game winning streak on Thursday, the Dodgers won on Friday for the 16th time in 21 games.

"It's good to be playing like this," Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said. "We were 9.5 back, way under .500. It's not much fun like that. This is what it's supposed to be like."

Kershaw allowed six hits and one run while striking out eight in eight innings, his fifth straight outing of seven or more innings. Kershaw threw 79-of-118 pitches for strikes to out-duel Cincinnati's Homer Bailey before giving way to closer Kenley Jansen, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Kershaw, who leads the majors in ERA, opposing batting average and WHIP and ranks among league leaders in strikeouts and innings pitched, won for the fifth time in six starts.

"You know you're not going to have a lot of chances to score off him," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. "We did have chances, and Homer got out of some serious trouble a couple times."

Facing the Dodgers' ace, Bailey could not avoid a fourth straight loss despite allowing just two runs in seven innings. Bailey scattered seven hits and struck out five in his third straight outing with two or less runs of support.

"There's a reason he's led the league in ERA for a few years right?" Bailey said. "I'd like to face a guy with an ERA above a three. That'd be great. I've had him, (Pittsburgh's) Jeff Locke, the dude from Atlanta; he had about a two-something. He threw a hell of a game, what can you do?"

Added Baker: "They had a little trouble catching up, too. It wasn't just Kershaw out there by himself. Our guy was dealing at the same time."

Carl Crawford had three hits and Hanley Ramirez had two hits, including a two-RBI home run, and a stolen base.

Cincinnati had no one with multiple hits as the lineup finished with 10 strikeouts and grounded into a double play.

"We knew when we came in here, we were facing Zack Greinke, Kershaw and this staff here," Baker said. "You know you have your work cut out for you."

Cincinnati needed more than six innings to get on the board, cutting the Dodgers lead to 2-1 on a seventh-inning RBI single by Jay Bruce that scored Brandon Phillips.

The Dodgers pecked at Bailey, though, and he finally yielded in the sixth inning.

With Adrian Gonzalez at first base following a single, Hanley Ramirez drilled a Bailey offering over the wall for a two-run home run.

That was more than enough for Kershaw, who was dominant early and did more than enough late.

Kershaw was nearly untouchable for much of the outing, with seven strikeouts, no walks and three hits through six innings.

"The most important thing with him, from playing with him for a few years and watching him pitch on the side -- his mental game is just as good or better than he is physically," Paul said. "You never see him get too high or get too low, and then after that, it's just his stuff. When a guy like him commands the ball like he does, you're going to see a lot of games like this.

NOTES: Cincinnati LF Ryan Ludwick went 0-for-3 in his third rehab appearance with Class A Dayton. Ludwick has been out since the second day of the season with a torn labrum. ... The Dodgers' best month in team history was a 17-3 showing in April 1977. Los Angeles leads the majors with a .299 batting average, 115 runs and a .463 slugging percentage. ... The Reds rank second behind the Dodgers in July hitting. ... Ethier ranks among the top 10 National League hitters in batting average, hits and doubles in July. ... Dodgers 2B Mark Ellis extended his hitting streak to eight games. ... Cincinnati pitchers rank second in the league with a 3.35 ERA and the Reds are on pace for a club-record 1,316 strikeouts.
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