That certainly didn't happen in his latest outing.
Kershaw now faces one of the NL's top offenses - but also a team he's dominated - on Tuesday night when the Dodgers follow their first win in a week with a three-game set against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
With Zack Greinke (collarbone) landing on the disabled list earlier this month, Chris Capuano (calf) joining him there last week and Chad Billingsley (elbow) doing so Sunday, Los Angeles is very thin on quality starters even with Ted Lilly (shoulder) set to be activated Wednesday.
That leaves a bigger burden on Kershaw (2-2, 1.88 ERA), especially with the Dodgers (8-10) being one of only five NL teams with a losing record.
He didn't pitch like a recent Cy Young Award winner Wednesday. The left-hander gave up five runs - three earned - and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-2 loss to last-place San Diego. His three home runs allowed tied a career worst, his five strikeouts were a season low and four walks a season high.
"I didn't have any command and really couldn't throw the breaking ball again," Kershaw told MLB's official website. "I don't know what happened. I was just falling behind too much."
After throwing 19 scoreless innings with one walk to open the season, he's given up six runs and walked seven in 9 2-3.
Kershaw has had no such problems versus the Mets. He's won five straight starts against them, giving up two earned runs in 35 2-3 innings while striking out 36.
New York (9-8), though, is among the league leaders with 22 homers and 5.8 runs per game.
Buck is a big reason why. He hit his team-high seventh home run Sunday in a 2-0 win over Washington, and entered this week leading the majors with 22 RBIs.
"I don't know where we'd be without John Buck ," manager Terry Collins said of the veteran catcher acquired from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey deal.
The Dodgers have not been nearly as good offensively, averaging 3.0 runs. They totaled 13 during a six-game losing streak before matching a season high in a 7-4 win at Baltimore on Sunday.
Manager Don Mattingly moved Matt Kemp down a spot to cleanup and pushed Adrian Gonzalez up to third. Though Kemp remains homerless, he had the go-ahead RBI single Sunday and his second three-hit effort in three games. As Kemp's average reached .235, Gonzalez raised his to a team-best .385 with a single and an RBI double.
"You may look back in a week and say this is a big game if we start to put some (wins) together," Mattingly said. "If we go into New York and don't play well then you don't look at it as anything. It's really going to be up to us."
The left-hander is coming off his first loss, giving up three runs in six innings of an 11-3 defeat at Colorado on Thursday.
Niese has a 4.26 ERA without a decision in two career starts against Los Angeles, which swept a three-game set at Citi Field last year and won the season series 4-3.
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||10||.100||1||0||0||1||0||.182||.282||.100|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|April 17, 2013||Chris Capuano||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|April 16, 2013||Chad Billingsley||15-Day DL||Right elbow pain|
|April 13, 2013||Shawn Tolleson||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|April 12, 2013||Zack Greinke||Day-to-Day||Broken left collarbone|
|April 12, 2013||Zack Greinke||15-Day DL||Broken left collarbone|
|March 28, 2013||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Left shoulder labrum surgery|
|New York Mets|
|March 22, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|March 22, 2013||Frank Francisco||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|March 22, 2013||Shaun Marcum||15-Day DL||Neck strain|
|March 22, 2013||Johan Santana||60-Day DL||Left shoulder surgery - out for season|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Mark Ellis waited all winter to hit the 100th home run of his career.
Once he got there, he kept going.
Ellis lined two home runs and hit a hard grounder that sent Mets starter Jonathon Niese limping off for X-rays, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers over New York 7-2 Tuesday night.
"We've been lacking some big hits lately," Ellis said. "We haven't done a great job early on this season."
Ellis got four hits and drove in four runs. He hit his 100th career homer in the fifth inning, then connected for a tiebreaking, three-run shot with two outs in the seventh.
Ellis had three RBIs on Sunday at Baltimore when the Dodgers stopped a six-game losing streak. He had not homered since Sept. 20 until tagging the Mets in the series opener, and is now batting .348 this year.
A contact hitter with occasional pop, Ellis recalled being a rookie in 2002 when Oakland teammate Randy Velarde reached 100 homers. Ellis said he remembered thinking to himself, "If I get to 100, I'd be really happy."
Ellis wound up with the milestone souvenir when a fan threw the ball back on the field.
"Helps to do it on the road," he said.
The ball Ellis hit that really hurt the Mets came in the third when his comebacker struck Niese in the lower right leg. Niese hopped toward the clubhouse with a bruise between his Achilles and the bone, and the team said he's day to day.
"We'll see how it feels tomorrow. But I should be able to throw a bullpen and make my next start," Niese said.
"I'm glad it's not as bad as what it could have been," he added. "It's just a bruise. Initially it hurt pretty bad, but after icing it a few times it feels good."
Los Angeles won despite an uneven outing by ace Clayton Kershaw . With Dodgers great Sandy Koufax watching at Citi Field, Kershaw walked four and struck out five in five innings.
Hit hard in his previous start by San Diego, Kershaw limited the damage this time to two runs and three hits on a night with temperatures in the low 50s. The 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner remained unbeaten in seven starts against the Mets.
"I was pretty terrible tonight," Kershaw said. "I just beat myself. I was awful."
"The team won in spite of me, not because of me," he added. "I did everything wrong. Just a lot of cardinal sins."
Ronald Belisario (1-2) pitched one inning for the win. Brandon Lyon (1-1) gave up Ellis' go-ahead homer.
The Dodgers won several hours after they announced right-hander Chad Billingsley would have Tommy John surgery this week and miss the rest of the season, the latest setback for their rotation.
The injury news didn't sound quite so dire for Niese.
Hit by the grounder, Niese hopped toward home plate looking for the ball as Ellis reached on an infield single. The Mets' lefty sat down in the dirt along the first base line and grimaced as manager Terry Collins and a trainer looked at him. Niese was helped to his feet after a minute or so and exited.
"You never want to see someone go out like that," Ellis said.
Ellis' solo homer in the fifth made it 2-all and finished reliever Rob Carson.
Justin Sellers hit an RBI single in the second that put the Dodgers ahead. Niese escaped a bases-loaded jam when Kershaw grounded into a double play.
The Mets scored twice in the third after Kershaw retired the first two batters. Carson, who took over for Niese, walked in his first big league plate appearance and set up RBI singles by Daniel Murphy and David Wright .
A.J. Ellis hit a two-run double in the Dodgers' eighth.
NOTES: Ellis had his third multihomer game, and first since June 17, 2008, with Oakland. In that game, his second homer also came off Lyon. Ellis has 13 four-hit games. ... Kershaw has walked at least four in two straight starts for the first time since April 2011. ... Sellers matched a career best with three hits. ... Mets SS Ruben Tejada and 2B Murphy each had nifty plays. ... Mets RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 0.93 ERA) starts Wednesday night vs. LHP Ted Lilly , who will make his season debut after shoulder surgery. ... RHP Shaun Marcum is scheduled for his Mets debut Saturday against Philadelphia. On the disabled list with a sore neck and biceps, he pitched five shutout innings in an extended spring training game Monday. Collins said Marcum felt fine the day after. ... Mets CF Juan Lagares made his big league debut during a double switch in the fifth inning. Promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the day, he flied out to the warning track against Kershaw in his first at-bat. Lagares singled his next time up.