Clayton Kershaw pitched the Dodgers back into first place Saturday night.
Exactly how Manager Don Mattingly envisioned he would.
A night after Zack Greinke pitched seven scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants, Kershaw delivered an even more dominant performance. Kershaw pitched his second shutout and fourth complete game of the season, limiting the Giants to two hits and a walk in a 5-0 victory for the Dodgers at AT&T Park.
The Dodgers started the three-game series trailing the Giants by 11/2 games. By virtue of winning the first two games, they are now ahead by one-half game.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is 11-5 with a 3.39 earned-run average, will pitch for the Dodgers in the series finale. He will be opposed by Jake Peavy, whom the Giants acquired Saturday from the Boston Red Sox.
The Dodgers' rotation was reset at the All-Star break with this series in mind. Mattingly started Dan Haren in the first game after the break to ensure his three best pitchers would be lined up for this series.
Kershaw (12-2) gave up a one-out single to Gregor Blanco in the first inning, but he responded by immediately forcing Buster Posey to ground into an inning-ending double play.
"That team puts the ball in play and doesn't strike out a lot," Kershaw said. "They have good at-bats early, so you try to attack them and get it done early."
Kershaw didn't permit another Giants baserunner until the fifth inning, when he issued a one-out walk to Michael Morse. Kershaw struck out the next two batters.
Pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias reached base on an error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but never advanced past second base.
"A lot like last night, where the guy out there on the mound seemed to set the tempo and the tone for the game," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers have won the last 10 games started by Kershaw, who extended his personal winning streak to nine starts.
"Winning is fun," Kershaw said.
Kershaw lowered his earned-run average to 1.76, the best in baseball.
Kershaw has pitched seven or more innings in each of his last eight starts.
"If you're facing him, you have to try to attack him early," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "You can't get to two strikes because he has too many weapons. That's why he can go so deep into so many games. Hitters try to swing from the first pitch."
As was the case the previous night, the team's hitting matched the pitching.
The Dodgers collected 15 hits in the 8-1 victory Friday. They had 11 hits Saturday.
Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong lasted six innings and was charged with four runs (two earned) and eight hits.
The Dodgers scored a run in the fourth inning, another in the fifth, two in the sixth and one more in the seventh.
"We kept scoring runs," Kershaw said. "It's a good feeling in the starter to have that."
Gonzalez led the offensive with three hits, including two doubles. He also drove in a run.
Gonzalez was batting .250 at the All-Star break. In the eight games since, he is batting .419 (13 for 31) with a home run and eight runs batted in.
"I'm a very streaky hitter," Gonzalez said. "When I get going, I can put up some hits. That's how all my seasons go, lot of ups and downs."
Juan Uribe and Ramirez each had two hits, with Uribe driving in two runs and Ramirez one. Carl Crawford scored two runs.
For the second consecutive game, the Dodgers started an outfield of Yasiel Puig in center, Crawford in left and Matt Kemp in right.
"We set the goal of winning the series and actually doing it the first two games is great," Gonzalez said. "Now that we've won the series, we definitely look forward to trying to get the sweep."
Twitter: @dylanohernandezCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times