Kershaw dominant as Dodgers shut out Padres

Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- Despite all his success this season, Clayton Kershaw hadn't beaten the San Diego Padres. Three times the Los Angeles Dodgers ace faced the Padres. And three times he came away as a loser.
But Kershaw was determined not to let that happen again Saturday night.
Kershaw struck out 10 and tossed a three-hitter over seven innings, and the Dodgers got a pair of two-run homers from Yasiel Puig and catcher A.J. Ellis in a 4-0 victory over the Padres before 40,572 fans at Petco Park.
Ellis said Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt came up with a flawless game plan that gave Kershaw a boost.
"They've been successful against him the last couple of years," Ellis said of the Padres. "They grind him better than any team he's faced throughout the season. Rick said 'We've got to make (Kershaw) pitch. He's kind of become a one-sided guy against these guys. Fastball in, slider, occasional curveball (with) two strikes.' So we really wanted to focus on Clayton using the entire plate.
"He was all in for it. I think he was ready for something different. Obviously, he knew the pattern he had set wasn't quite as successful against this team as it had against others."
Ellis added that Kershaw's change-up also played a huge role in the outcome.
"The change-up has always been kind of the fourth pitch that is kind of developing for him. He threw some really good ones today," Ellis said.
The Dodgers (89-66) have captured six of the last seven from the Padres (72-82) and clinched the season series between the two with their 10th win in 18 meetings. The two clubs meet for the final time Sunday.
Kershaw (15-9) ended a three-game skid against San Diego, retiring 16 of the final 17 Padres he faced, with Chase Headley's double in the sixth being the only exception.
"I felt good tonight, so I guess that's a bonus," said Kershaw, who was pitching on extra rest after the Dodgers skipped his regularly scheduled start on Wednesday. "A little bit erratic at first with the fastball but A.J. did a real good job of making me use all my pitches on both sides of the plate. It's a tough team, too. They battle me. They put good at-bats on me and always seem to get my pitch count up. I felt good to finally get a win against these guys."
Kershaw, who entered the game with a 4.67 ERA against San Diego this season, lowered his major league-leading mark to 1.88 as he attempts to become the first pitcher since Greg Maddux (1993-95) to lead the majors in that category in three consecutive seasons.
"I think the difference was being able to get those key hits," Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko, who went 0-for-3 with a walk, said of Kershaw. "You can't get him all the time and he kind of got us. I'd say our at-bats were just as good as any other game against him. We just couldn't push through."
Said Padres manager Bud Black: "We were in a position a couple of times to get to him but couldn't get the big hit. He made some pitches when he needed to. As the game wore on, he got stronger."
Kershaw also reached base on a bunt single before Puig unleashed a blast estimated at 457 feet to center of reliever Tim Stauffer with no outs in the seventh. It was Puig's 18th of the season.
Ellis also hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning.
San Diego starter Burch Smith allowed two runs on three hits in six innings, but he issued five walks. Smith (1-2) struck out six on 98 pitches (58 strikes).
"I still need to cut down on the walks," said Smith, who was coming off an impressive win and a 10-strikeout outing against the Atlanta Braves last Sunday. "The changeup was OK, but I was missing down by two or three inches."
NOTES: Dodgers OF Andre Ethier took batting practice and performed running drills before Saturday's game. Ethier, who missed his eighth consecutive contest with a sprained left ankle, could return when the Dodgers visit the Giants on Sept. 24-26. ... SS Hanley Ramirez didn't start Saturday against the Padres. Manager Don Mattingly is resting Ramirez to help him recover from back and hamstring injuries that have plagued him throughout the season. Ramirez is expected to see limited playing time before the post-season. ... Dodgers RHP Edinson Volquez and his wife Roandry are expecting twin girls in October. ... Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke (15-3, 2.75) will clash with Padres RHP Andrew Cashner (10-8, 3.21) in the series finale Sunday.

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