LOS ANGELES – After Clayton Kershaw completed a spectacular month on the mound with yet another dominant victory, he struggled to muster much excitement about his performance or even the Los Angeles Dodgers’ leap to the top of the standings.
Kershaw knows it’s only June. But what a month it’s been for the Dodgers and their incredible left-hander.
Kershaw struck out 13 during seven innings of five-hit ball, and Andre Ethier hit a three-run homer in the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
Kershaw (9-2) extended his career-best scoreless streak to 28 innings in his first home start since throwing his first no-hitter June 18 against Colorado. He went 6-0 with an 0.82 ERA in June, yielding four runs in 44 innings and striking out 61.
“More importantly, we’ve just won every game,” Kershaw said. “We’re on a good run. In a long season, we’ll go on a bunch of runs. We’ve just got to make sure the lowest points aren’t as low.”
The Dodgers have had nothing but high points lately: With 12 wins in 16 games, Los Angeles (47-37) has pulled virtually even with the slumping Giants (46-36) atop the NL West. The Dodgers were 9½ games behind San Francisco on June 8, but erased the entire deficit in three weeks.
“When we were struggling early, I think everyone knew in the back of their minds that we could turn it around,” Kershaw said. “Coming back and tying up the Giants in a month is not something we expected, just like we didn’t expect to go 42-8 last year, but we have that ability.”
Kershaw’s bid for back-to-back home no-hitters lasted exactly two pitches before Matt Carpenter lined a single to left. Although he walked two and retired the side in order just once, Kershaw never allowed a runner to reach third while getting at least one strikeout in each inning.
“We had a couple of guys on with leadoff hits, and the next thing you know, they’re still standing on the bag they started on,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “A couple of times we had guys in scoring position, but (Kershaw) just wasn’t giving us much. He’s locked in.”
Indeed, St. Louis had little chance on another vintage day for Kershaw, who hasn’t allowed a run since June 13. His 28-inning scoreless streak is the fifth-longest in franchise history, trailing only a who’s-who of Dodgers luminaries: Orel Hershiser, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Sandy Koufax. Kershaw has the longest streak since Hershiser’s record 59-inning run in 1988.
Reds 4, Giants 0
In San Francisco, Homer Bailey made a strong bid for another no-hitter for Cincinnati, shutting down the Giants until Buster Posey’s two-out single in the seventh inning.
Bailey (8-4) finished with a three-hitter as the Reds completed their first four-game sweep in San Francisco since doing it at Candlestick Park in 1972.
Braves 3, Phillies 2
In Philadelphia, B.J. Upton tripled and drove in two runs to lead streaking Atlanta to its first four-game sweep in Philadelphia in 50 years.
Gerald Laird had two hits with a double and RBI for the Braves, who won for the sixth time in seven games.
Padres 2, Diamondbacks 1
In San Diego, rookie Odrisamer Despaigne won his second straight start.
Despaigne (2-0), a 27-year-old who defected from Cuba last summer, held Arizona to one run and five hits in 6⅔ innings.
Pirates 5, Mets 2
In Pittsburgh, Pedro Alvarez homered and drove in three runs and Edinson Volquez pitched six shutout innings to propel the Pirates.
Rockies 10, Brewers 4
In Milwaukee, Colorado scored three runs in a wild fifth inning that featured two Brewers errors.
Wilin Rosario took advantage of the gaffes with runners on first and second. His shot to third was booted by normally sure-handed third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
One run had already scored when the ball squirted into foul territory before shortstop Jeff Bianchi threw home high and offline trying to get Corey Dickerson. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy then threw errantly attempting to get Rosario at third and Rosario hustled home safely for a six-run lead.
Athletics 4, Marlins 3
In Miami, Nate Freiman hit a three-run homer in his 2014 debut as Oakland completed a three-game series sweep.