YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw continues to shine

He wins career-high 14th game, striking out nine. No matter that it comes against the lowly Astros.

August 13, 2011|By Ben Bolch
  • Clayton Kershaw held Houston to six hits and one run in eight innings during the Dodgers' 6-1 victory Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
Clayton Kershaw held Houston to six hits and one run in eight innings during… (Danny Moloshok / Associated…)

Sizing up the apparent mismatch between the Houston Astros and Clayton Kershaw, a radio reporter asked Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly before the game if his ace had a chance to do something more special than usual against the team with the worst record in baseball.

"You mean a perfect game or something?" Mattingly said.

Jason Michaels erased that possibility with a broken-bat infield single in the second inning Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, but Kershaw was nearly flawless for much of a 6-1 victory in which he notched his career-high 14th victory.

The kid pitcher who continues to come of age overwhelmed an infantile team with 12 rookies and 16 players age 27 or younger, holding Houston to six hits and one run in eight innings.

Three of the Astros' hits never left the infield and another was lost in the twilight sky by center fielder Matt Kemp, who held out his arms helplessly at his side before the ball bounced well behind him for a double.

Kershaw (14-5) solidified his Cy Young Award candidacy by recording nine strikeouts, increasing his National League-leading total to 193. He also lowered his earned-run average to 2.72.

And the 23-year-old might not even be close to peaking, according to his manager.

"There's no reason to really set limits on him as far as how much better he's going to get," Mattingly said, "because he's still young and he works awful hard."

Kershaw continues to pitch deeper into games during what has been his best and most consistent season. He has lasted at least seven innings in eight of his last 11 starts, with three complete games.

Making Kershaw's credentials all the more impressive is the fact that he pitches for the fourth-place Dodgers.

Of course, it wasn't as if he was facing one of the more dangerous lineups in baseball Saturday. Calling what the Astros are going through rebuilding might be putting it mildly; it's more like they have razed their foundation and are starting from scratch.

Prized outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn were traded last month, leaving first baseman Carlos Lee and shortstop Clint Barmes as possibly the only hitters who can enter Minute Maid Park without flashing their driver's licenses.

Houston was comically bad on the basepaths Saturday, with rookie J.D. Martinez needlessly running into an out in the eighth inning. With Martinez on second base and two out, Jimmy Paredes hit a grounder to third baseman Casey Blake.

Instead of making Blake throw to first base for the out, Martinez inexplicably ran alongside the third baseman, allowing him to tag Martinez.

The Astros were also shaky defensively, committing three errors, and their pitching wasn't exactly stellar.

Starter Wandy Rodriguez (8-9) gave up a two-run homer to Kemp in the first inning and a squeeze-bunt RBI single to Kershaw in the fifth. Tony Gwynn Jr. scored from third base on the latter play, sliding around the attempted tag from catcher Carlos Corporan.

Gwynn had three hits, including a triple, and Justin Sellers logged his first major league hit with a fifth-inning single through the left side of the infield.

Los Angeles Times Articles