CHICAGO – Clayton Kershaw had his usual velocity, and that was about it. The rest of his considerable repertoire appeared in brief flashes during one of the shortest outings of his brilliant year.
A.J. Ellis and company took care of the rest.
Kershaw became the majors’ first 20-game winner and Ellis hit a pair of two-run homers, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 14-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
“Obviously, you want to go eight or nine every time and be the reason why your team won,” Kershaw said. “But sometimes your team does it for you and you just have to be out there. So that was the way it happened today and I’ll take it.”
Kershaw (20-3) pitched five shaky innings in his shortest start in 3½ months, but the NL West-leading Dodgers roughed up Edwin Jackson on their way to a 13-hit attack that included four homers. Matt Kemp hit a three-run shot in Los Angeles’ six-run first, and Yasiel Puig added another three-run homer in the sixth.
The Dodgers improved MLB’s best road record to 48-31 and clinched a postseason berth when Milwaukee lost 4-2 at Pittsburgh on Friday night. They increased their lead to 3½ games over San Francisco in the division.
“We can’t really worry too much about these other teams,” Kemp said.
Jackson (6-15) recorded just two outs in his first appearance since he was placed on the disabled list last month with a right lat strain. He was charged with four hits and five runs in his fourth consecutive loss.
Pirates 4, Brewers 2
In Pittsburgh, Russell Martin hit a three-run homer off Jonathan Broxton in the eighth inning as the Pirates inched closer to a playoff berth.
Padres 5, Giants 0
In San Diego, Tim Hudson allowed four runs in the first inning, and San Francisco was held to three hits.
Cardinals 2, Reds 1
In St. Louis, John Lackey powered back into the postseason rotation picture with 7⅔ dominant innings, and Randal Grichuk and Matt Holliday hit consecutive homers in the first inning.
Mets 5, Braves 0
In Atlanta, Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer and Zack Wheeler pitched six scoreless innings.
Nationals 3, Marlins 2
In Miami, Adam LaRoche hit an early two-run homer to support Doug Fister.
Rockies 15, Diamondbacks 3
In Denver, Michael Cuddyer smacked a grand slam and drove in a career-high seven runs as Colorado hammered Arizona.