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Clayton Kershaw doesn’t flinch or fade in reaching milestone vs. Diamondbacks

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw delivers during the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw delivers during the sixth inning of a 5-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

He didn’t fluster. He didn’t fatigue. He didn’t fade.

Even as Tim Locastro fouled off pitch after pitch in a third inning at-bat Thursday, spoiling wipeout sliders and looping curveballs and fastballs painted all over the corners, Clayton Kershaw seemed to grow only sharper with every throw.

“He’s just very good at staying in the moment,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Focusing on the next pitch.”

On the 12th offering, Kershaw finally froze Locastro with his hardest pitch of the night, firing a 93-mph fastball over the plate for strike three — a common result during another typically dominant Kershaw start.

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With eight strikeouts in six scoreless one-hit innings in the Dodgers’ 5-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, Kershaw collected two more career accolades.

In the second inning, the 32-year-old became the third-youngest pitcher in MLB history to record 2,500 strikeouts, reaching the milestone slower than only Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson.

Kershaw’s punch-out of Locastro an inning later moved him to 38th on the all-time strikeout leaderboard, lifting him past early 20th century star Christy Mathewson’s mark of 2,502, according to MLB. Kershaw stands at 2,505.

“It’s hard for me to think about or wrap my head around,” Kershaw said. “But being associated with names like that, getting to see your name on different types of leaderboards is cool. It’s hard to grasp.”

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Dodgers first base coach George Lombard’s story about his mother and her efforts to combat racial inequality decades ago continues to resonate today.

Kershaw retired nine of 10 batters to begin the game and had a no-hitter until two outs in the sixth, when Christian Walker reached on an infield single.

Still, he lowered his season ERA to a career-low 1.50, third among pitchers with at least 30 innings this season, and improved to 5-1.

After missing the opening week-and-a-half of this pandemic-shortened season with a back injury, the three-time Cy Young Award winner is starting to vault himself into discussion for a fourth.

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“For him to be healthy and not have to guard and protect against his body, his back or whatever, it just allows him to have that freedom to execute pitches,” Roberts said. “He was our ace last year, and he’s pitching like an ace again.”

The Dodgers offense aided Kershaw’s cause Thursday, scoring twice in the first and seventh innings before tacking on another run in the eighth to complete their fifth sweep of the season and win their 10th straight at home.

“It was methodical,” Roberts said. “Starts with pitching, defense — and we did that. I thought today, the at-bats up and down the lineup were better. Just really good baseball.”

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Clayton Kershaw reaches milestone in Dodgers’ win Thursday.

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Turner named Clemente nominee

Justin Turner was named the Dodgers’ nominee for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award, his philanthropic work during the pandemic making him a finalist for MLB’s prestigious community service honor.

Through the foundation he co-founded with wife Kourtney, Turner this summer organized food delivery from local restaurants to the Los Angeles Dream Center, where nearly 900,000 meals were provided to those in need.

Turner also provided food donations to staff members at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and support for homeless military veterans.

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Cody Bellinger will return to the Dodgers’ lineup Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks after missing two games with an injury to his right lat area.

“It’s something that means a lot to Kourt and I, something we take a lot of pride in, giving back to the community,” Turner said during a video call. “To be nominated on a team full of guys who are really excellent helping out our community and helping out the city of Los Angeles is pretty special to us.”

Short hops

Turner is also progressing from a left hamstring strain that landed him on the injured list Tuesday (retroactive to Aug. 29) and is expected back next Tuesday. … Relievers Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez could return from the injured list as soon as the end of next week, Roberts said. Both are scheduled to face hitters in the next several days.

Three takeaways on the Dodgers

  • A Diamondbacks error led to the game’s opening run. With runners on first and second, first baseman Christian Walker tried to turn a grounder up the line into a double play. Instead, his throw to second was so low it ricocheted off the bag, bouncing high into the air to allow Corey Seager to trot home.

  • AJ Pollock hit the Dodgers’ first pinch-hit home run of the season in the seventh, hammering the first pitch he saw to center for a solo shot. The outfielder now has seven home runs and an .820 on-base-plus-slugging.

  • Seager recorded his second three-hit game of the season, collecting a trio of singles to raise his batting average to .323, 11th-best in MLB.

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