SAN DIEGO (AP) - The last two times the San Diego Padres faced Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw, he threw his only two complete games of the season against them.
So it wasn't much of a surprise when he took a two-hitter into the eighth inning before settling for his 21st win to lead the Dodgers to a 6-2 win over the Padres on Sunday.
``He's tough,' San Diego outfielder Aaron Cunningham said. ``He has more than one plus pitch, he throws hard and he comes right after guys. You have to try to get him early, because his stuff is great.'
Kershaw (21-5) bolstered his case for the NL Cy Young Award as he is line to win the pitching Triple Crown. Kershaw moved into a tie with Arizona's Ian Kennedy for NL lead for wins in his final start of the season. Kershaw also increased his league-leading strikeout total to 248 and tops the NL with a 2.28 ERA.
Cory Luebke (6-10) allowed four runs - three earned - on five hits over six innings for San Diego.
Cunningham was the only Padres batter to do damage against Kershaw heading into the eighth inning. Cunningham hit a two-out solo homer in the fifth for his third home run.
Kershaw is 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA in three starts against the Padres.
Matt Kemp's pursuit of the NL Triple Crown suffered a major setback as the Dodgers' outfielder fell eight points behind Ryan Braun of Milwaukee in the batting race. Kemp, who started the day six points back, went 1 for 5 as his average stayed at .325. Braun went 2 for 3 and raised his average to .333, while New York's Jose Reyes was at .331 after a 2-for-4 game.
Kemp is tied with Albert Pujols of St. Louis in home runs (37) and leads the league with 120 RBIs. He has three games left in Arizona starting on Monday to catch Braun.
Kemp is trying to become the first player to win the Triple Crown since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. St. Louis' Ducky Medwick (1937) was the last NL player to do it.
Kershaw took a 6-1 lead into the eighth inning. The left-hander allowed Orlando Hudson to reach on a leadoff double in the eighth and Alberto Gonzalez hit a one-out triple to knock him out of the game.
``I saw a little more of a four-pitch mix,' Padres manager Bud Black said. ``You could tell at times he pumped up the fastball and got more velocity. The slider was a wipeout pitch for him.'
Rod Barajas hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning off reliever Erik Hamren. Miles also had two RBIs and Dodger rookie Jerry Sands extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 games.
Kemp doubled in a run in his first at-bat to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He scored later that inning on Aaron Miles' single. Kemp flew out in his second at-bat, reached on an error and scored in the fifth, struck out in the seventh and ninth innings. He needs three home runs to become the fifth player in major league history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season.
NOTES: San Diego finished the season series 5-13 against the Dodgers. ... Luebke failed to win consecutive games in 16 starts. ... Los Angeles Dana Eveland (2-2, 3.75 ERA) will open a three-game series Monday at Arizona against RHP Daniel Hudson (16-11, 3.43). Padres RHP Mat Latos (8-14, 3.60) faces RHP Casey Coleman (3-8, 6.64) of the visiting Cubs in the opener of a three-game series Monday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved