MILWAUKEE -- For all that's gone wrong for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, Clayton Kershaw has been nothing short of a saving grace.
The left-hander has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season carrying a 1.40 ERA into his Monday night meeting with the Brewers and he continued his dominant start to 2013, going the distance in a 3-1 victory over Milwaukee at Miller Park.
Kershaw scattered three hits over his nine innings, issuing just one walk and striking out five, winning his second in a row and fifth of the season. In his last five outings, Kershaw is 3-2 and has an 0.68 ERA; having allowed just four runs (three earned) with 37 strikeouts and six walks in 39 2/3 innings.
"I'm just trying to pitch better than I was," Kershaw said. "Sometimes you have a bad game but tonight, they were hacking, putting some balls in play."
Kershaw's 107 pitches was just one more than his Milwaukee counterpart, Yovani Gallardo.
"They swung early," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "You can't take pitches against him or it's going to be a long night."
While Kershaw's workload was spread out over a full nine innings, Gallardo lasted six innings against the Dodgers. He struck out a season-high seven but allowed three runs on eight hits, two of those coming on solo home runs by Andre Either and Matt Kemp, which proved to be the difference in the game.
"I thought he threw the ball well," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "He had better life on his fastball, he commanded it well. His slider was good. He made a couple of mistakes and they got him.
Kemp opened the second with Gallardo's only walk of the day and scored on Either's triple to right, making the score 1-0 Los Angeles.
After Milwaukee tied the game in the third, Gallardo retired Kemp to open the third but a 1-0 slider to Ethier went right down the middle and Ethier connected for his fourth homer of the season.
Another 1-0 slider, this time to Kemp to open the sixth, also stayed right out over the plate with the same result, giving the Dodgers a two-run lead.
"I felt pretty good going in today, probably the best I've felt in awhile," Gallardo said. "I made two mistakes, a backdoor slider to Ethier right down the middle and the same thing to Kemp, thigh-high right down the middle. Those were bad pitches, they put a good swing on them and hit them out of the park."
With Gallardo out of the game, Milwaukee's bullpen kept the Dodgers off the board the rest of the way. John Axford needed just six pitches to work a perfect seventh and Michael Gonzalez struck out the side in the eighth.
Burke Badenhop struck out the first two in the ninth before ending the inning on Dee Gordon's groundout, extending the Milwaukee relief corps' streak of scoreless innings to 15.
"They were really good," Roenicke said. "Badenhop made it look easy."
The Brewers, though, couldn't do anything more against Kershaw, who retired nine of his final 10 batters.
"He saved me for one more day," said Mattingly, who has been subject to rampant rumors about his job security in recent days. "He was throwing strike after strike. That was Maddox-like; everything was easy for him tonight."
Milwaukee's only scoring chance came in the third.
Rickie Weeks led off with a walk. After Yuniesky Betancourt singled and Gallardo laid down a sacrifice bunt, Weeks scored on Norichika Aoki's bouncer to second. Milwaukee had a chance to add another but Jean Segura, who began the day leading the National League with a .364 average, struck out looking to end the threat.
NOTES: Mattingly met with GM Ned Colletti before the game but brushed off reports that his job was in jeopardy. "Any sleeplessness I've had is about our team, not about me," Mattingly told reporters before the game. The Dodgers are in last place in the NL West. ... Brewers RHP Jim Henderson, who didn't pitch Monday, has converted all eight of his save opportunities this season. He has a 1.00 ERA while holding opponents to a .163 batting average. He has not allowed a baserunner in his past four appearances. ... Dodgers starters are 5-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 53 strikeouts in their last nine starts. ... Badenhop has not allowed an earned run in his last 10 appearances. ... Kemp's sixth-inning home run was just his second of the season and first since April 24, a span of 22 games and 87 at-bats.