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Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw shines but is left empty-handed

Dodgers ace gives up one run in seven innings in home opener against Pittsburgh but doesn't get a decision in club's 2-1 victory.

April 10, 2012|By Bill Shaikin

The Dodgers need to keep their icons healthy. Vin Scully missed his first home opener in 35 years because of what the Dodgers said was a bad cold. Clayton Kershaw had been fighting stomach flu for the better part of a week.

Kershaw was in the sold-out house Tuesday. Scully stayed home to nurse his illness.

"I haven't gotten to see him this season," Kershaw said. "I hope I didn't give it to him somehow."

Scully did not get the chance to confer his poetic praise upon Kershaw's splendid start, but another chance might be five days away. The defending National League Cy Young Award winner flirted with a shutout in the Dodgers' 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. And, speaking of icons …

"Dominating performance by Kershaw," tweeted incoming owner Magic Johnson, who was in New York for Wednesday's opening of the play dramatizing his rivalry with Larry Bird.

Kershaw got plenty of praise, but no decision. He has given up one run in 10 innings this season, but the Dodgers have scored one run while he has been in the game.

"We'd like to score a few more," Manager Don Mattingly said. "It seems like this is our formula for the most part."

That makes Kershaw an ideal pitcher for the Dodgers, and not just because of his darting fastball and signature curve. He pitched seven innings Tuesday, with two runners getting to third base.

In the second inning, Casey McGehee led off with a gift triple that center fielder Matt Kemp lost in the sun. Kershaw shrugged, struck out the next two batters and retired the third on a fly ball.

In the seventh inning, the first two batters singled and McGehee lifted a fly ball to left fielder Juan Rivera. Alex Presley tagged at second base and advanced to third, beating Rivera's throw.

Presley arguably would not have run on a better defensive left fielder — the Dodgers used Tony Gwynn Jr. there as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning — and might not have been in position to score on a ground ball.

Kershaw again shrugged. His teammates put him into two jams and he had to get out of them, not that he would ever say it quite that way.

"That's what you have to do if you're dumb enough to let guys get on base," he said.

In seven innings, he gave up one run and four hits, struck out seven and didn't walk anyone. Not bad for a guy who left his opening-day start Thursday in San Diego after three innings, and after vomiting.

"Today was the first day I felt normal," Kershaw said. "The last four days I haven't been able to eat what I wanted to. I felt weak and tired."

Mattingly said he believed Kershaw was still regaining his strength.

"I don't think he's quite 100%," Mattingly said.

If a weakened Kershaw can start the season with an 0.90 earned-run average, what about a vintage Kershaw?

"He's not going to be bad," Mattingly said with a twinkle.

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