Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by teammate Clayton Kershaw #22 as Nick Hundley #4 of the San Diego Padres looks on after Puig hit a two-run home run during the seventh inning.
Now that is the Clayton Kershaw we all know and love. After a series of starts that were average at best for the Dodgers' ace, he rebounded against the Padres in a 4-0 victory.
San Diego had really put a number on Kershaw in 2013, giving him an 0-3 record with a 4.67 ERA in three starts. With three days of extra rest and a strong lineup behind him, he earned his first victory against the Padres, throwing seven innings with three hits, two walks, no runs and 10 strikeouts.
Kershaw only let three base runners reach second base, while striking out at least one batter each inning, and completing four perfect frames. He earned his 15th win this season and lowered his ERA to 1.88.
If he can avoid an outing of five innings with five earned runs, or worse, he will become the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 2005 to finish a season with a sub-2.00 ERA. His next start is on Friday, at home, against Colorado.
Kershaw received four runs of support on Saturday since the Dodgers did not start the scrubs again, and had a fairly complete lineup.
They only had six hits, but the Padres pitchers helped out by issuing six walks. The Dodgers scored their first runs in the fourth inning as Mark Ellis walked, and A.J. Ellis followed with a two-run homer. Ellis has game-winning home runs in back-to-back starts.
The Dodgers scored two more in the seventh, as Clayton Kershaw singled and was brought home on a home run that was absolutely punished by Yasiel Puig. The two-run dinger was estimated at 457 feet, the second longest Petco Park home run in the stadium's history.
That was it for the Dodgers with the bats, but with Kershaw's seven scoreless innings, and a perfect inning from both Ronald Belisario and Brian Wilson, it was all that they needed for a 4-0 win.
Sunday is the season-finale against the Padres with Zack Greinke taking on Andrew Cashner. In the rest of the NL, the Braves lost and the Cardinals won, so the Dodgers are now 2.5 games behind Atlanta and two games behind St. Louis for home-field advantage.