By the time Clayton Kershaw was finished pitching Sunday, dirt was everywhere.
On his uniform pants. On his gray jersey top.
The stains were mementos of everything Kershaw did in a 5-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in the last of three games at Miller Park.
On a day that started with the Dodgers placing Hanley Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained side muscle, Kershaw made a diving catch on a failed bunt attempt and turned a double play. He picked off a baserunner. He drove in a run and scored another. He also limited the Brewers to a run and six hits over eight innings to earn his 14th win.
"It's fun to feel like a baseball player," Kershaw said. "We get labeled as pitchers, so every once in a while, you get some dirt on your jersey, it gets fun."
Kershaw lowered his earned-run average to 1.78, but he labored to do so.
"It was not easy," he said. "I felt like I had the leadoff guy on pretty much the whole game."
Manager Don Mattingly said that's what made Kershaw's start impressive.
"That shows you who Clayton is," Mattingly said. "He kept coming, kept battling, he wasn't going to give in."
Kershaw walked the first batter he faced in the game, Carlos Gomez. Until then, Kershaw hadn't walked a batter in the first inning all season.
Gomez stole second base and scored on a single by Ryan Braun.
Kershaw tied the score in third inning, 1-1. He was struck on the left foot by Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez.
Kershaw picked off Carlos Gomez at first base in the bottom half of the inning.
But the play of the game was made in the fifth inning. With the Dodgers ahead, 2-1, Rickie Weeks was on third base when Jean Segura attempted a suicide squeeze. Segura popped up and Kershaw charged in to make a diving catch in the dirt in front of home plate. Kershaw scrambled back to his feet and doubled off Weeks at third base.
"This guy's a baseball player, through and through," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "As soon as he lets go of that baseball, he becomes a ninth fielder out there."
Manager Don Mattingly said he wasn't concerned when he saw Kershaw dive.
"I don't really worry about him with that kind of stuff," Mattingly said. "He's kind of hard all the time. He's not the typical pitcher that kind of jogs to first. He's a guy that runs hard to first. I think he trains in a way that … He's a baseball player."
The Dodgers have now won each of Kershaw's last 13 starts. Kershaw is 11-0 over that stretch.
"If he keeps working hard, he's going to be good one of these days," Gonzalez joked.
After their latest win, the Dodgers boarded a charter flight to Atlanta, where they will be without Ramirez during their four-game series against the Braves.
Mattingly made it sound as if Ramirez could be ready to play when he is eligible to be activated from the disabled list, but the typical recovery time from a strained oblique is about a month.
"I feel like we're being a little bit cautious," Mattingly said.
Unlike other times this season, Ramirez didn't object to being placed on the disabled list, Mattingly said.
It was Ramirez's the first time on the disabled list this season.
In Ramirez's absence, Miguel Rojas started at shortstop for the second consecutive day. The slick-fielding Rojas contributed on offense too. He was three for five, including a double and a run scored.
Ramirez was replaced on the active roster by Darwin Barney, who was called up from triple-A Albuquerque. A Gold Glove Award winner at second base in 2012, Barney will start some games at shortstop, Mattingly said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times