Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw shows up on the mound and at the plate

A renewed Clayton Kershaw strikes out seven Rockies and gets three hits of his own in Dodgers' 11-4 win

When Clayton Kershaw was removed from the game Monday night, he felt the way he did in a similar situation six days earlier.

Content.

"That's a new feeling for me," Kershaw joked.

After nine largely unremarkable starts, Kershaw has won his last two, the more recent coming in the Dodgers' 11-4 thumping of the last-place Colorado Rockies. Kershaw pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on a fourth-inning home run Nolan Arenado but nothing else.

"I'll try to build on that, for sure," he said.

The visit to Coors Field bolstered the confidence of not only Kershaw, but also the recently-slumping Dodgers offense, which collected 18 hits, including home runs by Andre Ethier, Jimmy Rollins, Joc Pederson and Howie Kendrick.

Kershaw drove in Rollins to give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning, as he showed bunt, only to slap ball to the opposite field and beat the Rockies' defensive shift. The run was the second of six the Dodgers scored that inning.

The hit was the third of the game for Kershaw; he had never had that many in a game.

Adrian Gonzalez, who had four hits and a walk, said he hasn't been surprised by the occasional offensive contributions of Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

"They're like the high school pitcher that does it all," Gonzalez said. "They're really good athletes. Kershaw, I'm sure, you can put him at first every day and he can defend himself. The same with Greinke. You can put him on the field somewhere."

Kershaw said he doesn't approach hitting with the same intensity as he does his pitching, which, in turn, makes it more enjoyable.

"It's a little bit more fun because there's not the pressure of needing to succeed," he said. "I guess it's almost like a free pass."

Kershaw was also pleased with the effectiveness of his curveball and slider in Colorado's thin air.

"It's always a little bit of an extra challenge to pitch here and to come out of it, get a win," he said. "If you throw it right, it's the same. It's just a smaller margin for error. You don't get away with as many mistakes."

Kershaw (4-3) limited the Rockies to five hits and a walk. He struck out seven and lowered his once-unsightly earned-run average to 3.73.

The start was the third in a row in which Kershaw pitched seven or more innings. He pitched only two such games in his first eight starts of the season.

By minimizing the workload of his team's relievers, Kershaw allowed the Dodgers to follow through with their plans for a bullpen game in the first game of a doubleheader the next day. The Dodgers and Rockies will be making up a game that was rained out here last month.

Rather than promote a starting pitcher from the minor leagues for the early contest, the Dodgers will use a series of relievers to get through the game. Long reliever Juan Nicasio will be the first pitcher on the mound for them.

Zack Greinke will start the second game.

League rules will permit the Dodgers and Rockies to add a 26th player for the two games. For the Dodgers, that player will be left-hander Ian Thomas, who was acquired in the recent trade that sent Juan Uribe to the Atlanta Braves. Thomas will be recalled from triple-A Oklahoma City.

The Dodgers already started to reconfigure their roster Monday, calling up David Huff from triple-A Oklahoma City and sending down right-hander Matt West.

Huff pitched the final two innings on Monday night in relief of Kershaw. Huff, who made a spot start for the Dodgers in April, was charged with two runs and four hits.

Follow Dylan Hernandez on Twitter @dylanohernandez

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