Clayton Kershaw has had very few bad starts in 2013.
After successfully shutting down one team that had bothered him all season last weekend, the ace left-hander will look to avenge another as he leads the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Colorado Rockies in Friday night's series opener.
Kershaw (15-9, 1.88 ERA) is on pace to finish the year with baseball's lowest ERA since Houston's Roger Clemens closed 2005 at 1.87. The favorite for the NL Cy Young Award, Kershaw leads the league with 224 strikeouts, and will likely become the first Dodger pitcher with a sub-two ERA since Sandy Koufax 's 1.73 in 1966.
Kershaw has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of 12 starts since the All-Star break. The lone exception came Sept. 2, when he yielded season highs of five runs and 11 hits in five innings against the Rockies (72-87).
Kershaw has returned to his usual self since, posting a 1.71 ERA in three starts. Pitching on seven days' rest Saturday, he tossed seven innings of three-hit ball in a 4-0 win over a San Diego team responsible for three of his losses this season.
"I felt good, so I guess that's a bonus," said Kershaw, whose next start will come in Game 1 of the NL division series on Thursday. "A little bit erratic at first with the fastball but (catcher A.J. Ellis) did a real good job of making me use all my pitches on both sides of the plate."
The Rockies have done more than challenge Kershaw this month. They lead the majors with a .303 batting average in September, and have tallied at least nine hits in nine straight contests.
The retiring Todd Helton is batting .387 over a seven-game hitting streak with two home runs, six doubles and nine RBIs.
Despite their potent offense, a 5.84 team ERA in September has left the Rockies with an 8-14 record.
Scheduled starter Collin McHugh (0-3, 8.59) is among the struggling Colorado pitchers.
Acquired from the New York Mets in June, McHugh has yet to make much of a mark in Denver. The right-hander, shuttled back and forth between the minor leagues and the majors all season, has surrendered a .379 average, including a .421 clip to left-handed batters.
After allowing one run in five innings to St. Louis in his return to the major leagues on Sept. 16, he regressed Saturday, allowing six runs and a season-worst 11 hits in five innings of a 7-2 loss to Arizona.
"It was kind of disappointing, too many balls up in the middle of the plate," McHugh said. "I had success the last outing keeping the ball down and out of the middle of the plate. Today we got beat on a couple of big spots in the middle of the plate up."
The NL West champion Dodgers (91-68) have scored 13 runs over their last six games.
Despite three doubles and a triple, they left seven men on base in Thursday's 3-2 loss at San Francisco. They are 6 for 44 (.136) with runners in scoring position in their last six.
Yasiel Puig is 7 for his last 37 (.189) overall, but is batting .346 (9 for 26) against Colorado.
The Rockies are one of four major league teams with a winning record at Dodger Stadium this year, having won four of seven.
|Jorge De La Rosa||2||.000||0||0||0||0||2||.000||.000||.000|
|September 17, 2013||Wilin Rosario||Day-to-Day||Left game - right calf soreness|
|September 16, 2013||Nolan Arenado||Day-to-Day||Left game - undisclosed injury|
|September 04, 2013||Nolan Arenado||Day-to-Day||Right thumb contusion|
|August 26, 2013||Dexter Fowler||Day-to-Day||Bruised left knee|
|August 25, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||Day-to-Day||Sore ribs|
|August 23, 2013||Rafael Betancourt||15-Day DL||Right elbow sprain|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|September 26, 2013||Jerry Hairston Jr.||Day-to-Day||Back|
|September 25, 2013||Andre Ethier||Day-to-Day||Sprained left ankle|
|September 19, 2013||Adrian Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Quadriceps|
|September 02, 2013||Yasiel Puig||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right knee strain|
|August 04, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Jammed right shoulder|
|August 03, 2013||Yasiel Puig||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Clayton Kershaw is joining the pitching greats in baseball, though the Los Angeles Dodgers ace isn't reveling in his accomplishments.
He'd rather the team win its first World Series championship since 1988.
Kershaw scattered four hits over six innings, Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis each homered and drove in three runs and the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 11-0 Friday night.
Kershaw (16-9) lowered his ERA to 1.83, becoming the first pitcher to lead the majors in ERA in three consecutive seasons since Atlanta's Greg Maddux from 1993-95.
"I try not to take that lightly," Kershaw said. "It's a huge honor."
The left-hander joined Houston's Roger Clemens (1.87) and Boston's Pedro Martinez (1.74) as the only qualifying pitchers since 2000 to post an ERA under 2.00. Kershaw is the first Dodgers pitcher to do so since Sandy Koufax had a 1.73 ERA in 1966.
"It's too hard to think about all that stuff. Right now there's not much time to look back. You need to keep going," Kershaw said. "You can look back in the offseason a week or two. That's when you can enjoy it."
Kershaw struck out eight and walked none in totaling a career-high 236 innings this season. Favored to win the NL Cy Young Award, he leads the league with 232 strikeouts.
"If we had gotten this guy some runs, he would have won 25, 26 games this season," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He just attacks. It's like the scoreboard isn't even there. He goes after people."
Kershaw doffed his cap to the sellout crowd of 52,367 during a curtain call in the sixth, mouthing the words "Thank you."
His next start for the NL West champions will come in the division series opener Thursday at Atlanta or St. Louis.
"You want to gain some momentum going in there," said Kershaw, who hasn't pitched in the postseason since 2009. "Getting to the playoffs is nice. Unless you win that whole thing no one remembers."
Kershaw ended the regular season by tossing 13 scoreless innings over his final two starts.
"He's had a great year," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "His command and stuff, he puts them both together, and there's some deception. He's the complete package for a pitcher, and he's left-handed on top of it. He's as good as there is right now in our league."
Colorado rookie Collin McHugh (0-3) gave up a career-high eight runs and nine hits in four innings, struck out three and walked one.
"It's been a long year for me and a long year for my wife and my family, so it's hard to say what's going to happen next year," he said. "I'm going to take this offseason and work on what I need to do to get better and what I do best, and hopefully come back and contribute another day."
The Dodgers' Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis each had three hits and drove in two runs.
Crawford's three-run homer in the fourth scored Kershaw, who singled, and Yasiel Puig , who walked, for an 8-0 lead.
Adrian Gonzalez got his 100th RBI of the season with a solo shot in the third that extended the Dodgers' lead to 5-0. He joined Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder as the only players to reach the century mark six or more times in the last seven seasons.
Los Angeles jumped on McHugh in the first, taking a 4-0 lead with two outs on a two-run double by Uribe and RBI singles by A.J. Ellis and Mark Ellis .
A.J. Ellis hit a two-run homer off reliever Jeff Manship in the fifth. Mark Ellis 's RBI single with two outs in the sixth made it 11-0.
NOTES: It was the Dodgers' biggest shutout win since beating Pittsburgh 11-0 on Aug. 14, 2012, and their largest at home since an 11-0 victory over Arizona on July 7, 2004. ... Puig fouled a pitch off his left shin in the fifth and was hobbling as he flied out to right field. He then left the game. X-rays were negative. He might sit out Saturday. ... Rockies RF Michael Cuddyer went 0 of 4, dropping his league-leading average to .333. In pursuit of his first career batting title, he has a nine-point lead over Atlanta's Chris Johnson . ... Dodgers SS Nick Punto was scratched with an in-grown right toenail. ... The Dodgers hosted their first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender night. "Glee" co-star Amber Riley was joined by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles for the national anthem. Former Dodger Billy Bean , the second major league player to come out as gay, and NBA player Jason Collins, who came out earlier this year, each tossed first pitches. Lance Bass of `N Sync, who came out in 2006, started the game with "It's time for Dodger baseball."