Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) and catcher Rod Barajas are congratulated… (Christopher Hanewinckel…)
Reporting from San Diego — With nearly two months remaining in the regular season, Clayton Kershaw matched his single-season career high in wins Monday with a 6-2, complete-game victory over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Cy Young Award voters might want to consider this when examining Kershaw's 13-4 record: He pitches for the Dodgers.
"I guess it makes it more impressive," Manager Don Mattingly said.
The Dodgers have the fourth-fewest wins in the National League with 49, but Kershaw is tied for the individual lead in the category. Every other National League pitcher with 10 victories or more pitches for a team with a winning record.
Unaware that he was about to be hit with news that hard-throwing rookie right-hander Rubby De La Rosa could undergo season-ending surgery for a sprained elbow ligament, Mattingly smiled as he extolled Kershaw's virtues.
"I don't know if I faced guys quite like this," Mattingly said, reflecting on his playing career.
Mattingly talked about facing Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens, but said they relied more on power than Kershaw, who can throw four pitches for strikes in any count.
"He's able to throw a 3-2 breaking ball, a 3-2 changeup," Mattingly said. "It's not like he's predictable."
Mattingly said the pitcher most similar he could recall was a young Mike Mussina.
Kershaw has pitched at least eight innings in five of his last eight starts and at least seven innings in seven of his last nine starts. He has four complete games.
"Kersh has learned to pitch late into games," Mattingly said. "He's pitched as well as he's had to."
On Monday, that meant holding the Padres to two runs and six hits. He remains the NL's strikeout leader, but struck out only two Monday.
"Sometimes you don't have strikeout stuff, you have groundball stuff," Kershaw said.
Kershaw started the game by walking Cameron Maybin, who scored on a two-out single.
But the Dodgers tied the score, 1-1, in the second inning when James Loney drove in Juan Rivera with a sacrifice fly. Matt Kemp doubled in the fourth inning and scored on a single by Rod Barajas to put the Dodgers ahead, 2-1.
Padres starter Cory Luebke aided Kershaw by picking up a ball Kershaw bunted, turning a would-be foul ball into an infield single in the fifth inning. Kershaw scored the second of the Dodgers' two runs in the inning, increasing the Dodgers' advantage to 4-1.
Kershaw served up a home run to former teammate Orlando Hudson in the seventh inning, but otherwise had no trouble completing nine innings in an economical 108 pitches. He lowered his earned-run average to 2.68.
"We've seen him stay zeroed in around 100 (pitches) for seven, eight, nine innings," Mattingly said. "It makes you want to hit him early in the count. He puts a lot of pressure on hitters because of all the stuff he can do. You don't want to get behind in the count because he's unpredictable."
And mentally resilient.
"He seems to be able to stay focused," Mattingly said.
The team's performance hasn't affected that.
"It's tough to be in fourth place," Kershaw said. "It's tough to not really be in the hunt of things right now. But at the same time, our mentality doesn't change.
"We come out every day to win."