Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw pitches in the bottom of the first inning… (Mike McGinnis / Getty Images )
MILWAUKEE — Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti was evasive when asked Monday about Don Mattingly's job status, refusing to say whether the last-place team could fire its manager this week.
Against this backdrop of uncertainty, Clayton Kershaw pitched his second complete game of the season, a 107-pitch masterpiece in a 3-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park that ended the Dodgers' three-game losing streak.
"Every time I get in trouble, Kersh saves me for one more day," Mattingly said jokingly.
Kershaw (5-2), who limited the Brewers to three hits and a walk, said he and his teammates are aware of the mounting speculation regarding their manager's future.
BOX SCORE: Dodgers 3, Milwaukee 1
"We hear it," Kershaw said. "MLB Network is on the whole time in here, so we hear the stuff that's going around. I don't think we need any added motivation to play better, but we want to do well for Donnie. He's a great manager and a great person. We know it's up to us. He can't go out there and play."
Backed by solo home runs by Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, Kershaw delivered a performance that reminded Mattingly of likely Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
"It seemed like he kept throwing strike after strike," Mattingly said.
Unfortunately for Mattingly, he can't send Kershaw to the mound every day. But the Dodgers will have their second- and third-best starters pitching in this potentially career-altering series for Mattingly, as Zack Greinke will start on Tuesday and Hyun-Jin Ryu on Wednesday.
Some of the Dodgers' season-long problems remained unresolved Monday. They were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position. They scored only three runs.
Although Colletti wouldn't say anything definitive about Mattingly's future, he made clear he believed the players were to blame for these failings rather than the manager.
"I think he has done fine," Colletti said of Mattingly. "I think he's kept it steady. Players still have to play. You have to look at our performance as a team on the field. Have we hit well with runners in scoring position? Have we scored enough runs? Have we played enough good defense? Have we made proper pitches all the time? It's an easy way out to look at one person."
But Colletti wouldn't directly address speculation about Mattingly.
"My perspective hasn't changed," Colletti said.
Less than two weeks ago, Colletti told Times columnist Bill Plaschke, "I'm confident we're going to turn it around, and I'm confident we have the right people."
Colletti was asked about various media outlets speculating that Mattingly could be dismissed this week, perhaps as early as Thursday when the Dodgers have a day off.
"I really don't read very much," he said. "I don't have time to read a whole lot."
Would it be incorrect to say that Mattingly could be fired this week?
"You know what?" he said. "My perspective hasn't changed."
Is the perspective that you believe the team will turn its season around and …?
"I'm not talking about it," Colletti interrupted.
Mattingly was asked if he thought he would be managing the Dodgers in their series opener at home against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday if they drop this series to the flailing Brewers.
"I have no idea," Mattingly said. "I really haven't gotten any feeling that Ned's on the edge of, like, 'Donnie, you're the problem here.' "
Told that personnel decisions are sometimes made to change public perception, Mattingly replied, "To me, everything's a baseball decision. It should be baseball decisions. If the organization's going to make baseball decisions and I'm the problem, then that's a baseball decision. I don't know what public perception has to do with it."
Mattingly was reminded that when Jeff Pentland was fired as the team's hitting coach in the middle of the 2011 season, no one blamed Pentland for the Dodgers' offensive failures.
Mattingly replied sarcastically, "You can do it. You can keep changing all you want. You can do it every day. You can do it every other week. You can change the manager, you can change the staff, you can keep changing it. How many hitting coaches have been here in the last 10 years? At the end of the day, look at it. All it is is change."
Although Mattingly is understandably frustrated by his team's 18-25 record, he said he was satisfied with his players' efforts.
"To me, that's the main thing," he said. "If you lose that, you shouldn't be here. If the guys quit on you and they don't play, you should be gone. You lose the clubhouse or they're not playing for you, then it's over."