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Clayton Kershaw retires first 18 Mets in throwing three-hitter

Clayton Kershaw retires first 18 Mets in throwing three-hitter
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch against the Mets. (Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Let's see, where were we? Oh, yeah, all hail Clayton Kershaw. Please forgive us, O greatest pitcher of your generation, for doubting you back in May.

Now in July it is again Kershaw, slayer of mere mortals with baseball bats, ruler of all he surveys from the mound.

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Any doubting Kershaw's return to dominance had only to take in his latest work of art Thursday. The left-hander retired the first 18 Mets batters and went on to extend his scoreless streak to 29 innings.

Jimmy Rollins' solo home run off Bartolo Colon in the third inning provided the night's early score. The Dodgers then rode the arm of Kershaw for a three-hit, 3-0  victory over New York at Citi Field.

Kershaw made many nervous when he started the season 2-3 with a 4.32 earned-run average in his first nine starts. Overreaction was rampant. In his last 11 starts, he is 6-3 with a 1.21 ERA.

He was completely masterful Thursday against an admittedly weak-looking Mets lineup. He did not walk a batter and struck out 11. He needed just 104 pitches, throwing 79 of them for strikes.

Kershaw had the Mets talking to themselves through the first six innings. But he lost his perfect game and no-hit bid when Curtis Granderson led off the seventh with a clean single to right field. One out later, Wilmer Flores dumped a single to right to move Granderson to second. Kershaw then struck out cleanup hitter John Mayberry Jr. and got Eric Campbell to ground out.

Lucas Duda bounced a single up the middle for the Mets' only other hit in the eighth, but Kershaw quickly picked him off first.

Otherwise, he was a man completely in control. His slider was again sharp, but his curveball was also breaking as though it was weighted once to the plate. He easily leads the majors in strikeouts with 185.

Kershaw (now 8-6, 2.51 ERA overall) pitched his first no-hitter last year against the Colorado Rockies, striking out 15. In his last three starts, he has stuck out 38 without allowing a walk.

Rollins, who drove in the winning run Wednesday in Atlanta, hit his ninth home run of the year against an otherwise sharp Colon in the third. Colon went eight innings for the Mets, allowing one run on five hits. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.

The Dodgers got two insurance runs against the Mets' bullpen in the ninth. The Dodgers put together three consecutive singles to load the bases against Sean Gilmartin. New York then turned to Carlos Torres, who walked pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo to force in one run and gave up a sacrifice fly to Yasiel Puig to complete the scoring.

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