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Kershaw Shines in Matinee Duel

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Dodgers’ starter Clayton Kershaw really seems to get up for the big guys. With a brilliant seven-inning one-run outing against Barry Zito and the San Francisco Giants on a Sunday matinee last month, Kershaw came up big against the Colorado Rockies’ ace Ubaldo Jimenez in the Dodgers 2-0 victory.

“You can either try and be too perfect or you gotta pitch - you gotta throw some zeroes up there,” Kershaw said. “That’s the mindset I took.”

“This kid is special,” Torre said. “Today was a game that we certainly needed a lift.”

However it wasn’t a perfect day for Kershaw who had problems with location in the first inning again. Looking eerily like his last start when he gave up seven runs in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, he gave up walks to Dexter Fowler and Ryan Spilbourghs after a Troy Tulowitzki bunt-single to load the bases. After brushing back Ian Stewart with a high 94 mph fastball inside, Kershaw got him standing like a house by the side of the road with a fastball inside to escape the jam on his 30th pitch of the inning.

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“That’s something I’m trying to work on - getting comfortable in the first inning,” Kershaw admitted. “I’m not really sure how to do that yet. Maybe it’s throwing more in the bullpen, or maybe it’s warm up longer. I don’t know. But after getting in the middle innings I feel more comfortable and pitch my game.”

And Kershaw certainly did bounce back after that first inning and pitched eight strong innings giving up two hits and three walks while striking out nine in 117 pitches. Among his master strokes was getting Todd Helton to strike out three times in an 0-for-4 day.

“I had better command today,” Kershaw said comparing his last outing. “I was making them hit my pitches rather than working behind the count.”

“He had his fastball command,” catcher Russell Martin noted. “He was throwing some off-speed pitches for strikes as well. When he’s doing that the hitters can’t just sit on his fastball.

“This is the best I’ve ever seen him.”

The Dodgers got to Jimenez in the third inning. Blake DeWitt led off the inning with a double down the right field line beating out the throw by Spilborghs. Jamey Carroll hit a single up the middle that deflected off of Jimenez’s glove and had second baseman Clint Barmes diving the wrong way allowing DeWitt to score for the 1-0 Dodger lead.

But that was the only blip in Jimenez’s seven innings. In fact that was the only two hits he gave up along with four walks and a hit batter while striking out five. Notably Jimenez got Andre Ethier to strike out three times.

“You’re not going to score a bunch of runs off of a guy like that,” Martin said of Jimenez. “He definitely had his good stuff today, and we just battled.

“You’ve got to tip your cap to Kershaw. That’s the type of performance that it takes to beat a guy like that.”

Perhaps it was being in a pitchers’ duel that helped Kershaw out.

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“Sometimes when you know there is little margin for error,” Kershaw noted, “for me at least I stay more focused and try to work on from hitter-to-hitter and not from inning-to-inning. Sometimes that helps out a lot.”

With two outs in the eighth inning Martin widened the margin of error a little when he took the first pitch he saw from reliever Matt Daley out to the left field pavilion giving the Dodgers the 2-0 lead.

“It felt good,” Martin said of his homer. “It always feels good. It was a fastball that got a lot of the plate.”

Despite tying a career-high with his eight innings pitched, Kershaw felt like he had some more in him.

“I went to congratulate him after the eighth inning he said, ‘I have one more in me,’” Torre said. “I said, ‘I’m sure you do, but nice going.’”

“Absolutely,” Kershaw answered when asked if he wanted to go back out in the ninth inning. “With that said, we’ve got a pretty good closer back there.”

And their closer Jonathan Broxton did just that despite giving up two two-out singles in the ninth.

Despite being a quick 2 hour-19 minute pitchers’ duel, the game was not without its blooper reel moments.

In the bottom of the second inning after Manny Ramirez led off with a walk, he took off with almost no lead from first and easily got caught with his hands in the cookie jar during James Loney’s at-bat.

“He thought it was a hit-and-run,” Torre said. “He thought he saw a sign that wasn’t there.”

Kershaw also had a Southwest moment popping up a bunt in the third inning caught by catcher Miguel Olivo who doubled Carroll off at first.

In not-so-funny moments, Tulowitzki came out of the game in the fifth inning after straining his right quadriceps trying to field a double play on a comebacker hit by Carroll. DeWitt slid hard to second base to break up the double play. Hawpe replaced Tulowitzki at short with Melvin Mora coming off the bench to play second. Tulowitzki is listed as day-to-day.