Clayton Kershaw nears club record, Cody Bellinger homers twice as Dodgers rout Padres

Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw pitches against the San Diego Padres.
Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning on Sunday in San Diego.
(Mike McGinnis / Associated Press)

Clayton Kershaw quietly continued his march toward club history.

Cody Bellinger emphatically extended his return to tantalizing form.

Together, the two former MVPs led the Dodgers to a 10-2 win against the San Diego Padres on Sunday, with Kershaw pitching five innings of one-run ball — he collected three strikeouts to move to within four of breaking Don Sutton’s franchise record — and Bellinger hitting two home runs in the rubber-match rout at Petco Park.


“Overall, it was a great day for us,” Kershaw said. “That’s how the machine works. It’s pretty cool to see.”

All eyes were on Kershaw to begin the afternoon.

With 2,690 career strikeouts entering the game, the left-hander was within reach of breaking Sutton’s four-decades-old mark.

“Selfishly, I would want to see him do it today,” manager Dave Roberts said pregame. “Because if he punches out seven, then that’s a good thing for the Dodgers today.”

‘Just trying to ride the wave’: The Dodgers are off to another fast start; this time, Cody Bellinger isn’t being left behind.

April 20, 2022

Even without much swing-and-miss, though, Kershaw was still effective.

He located his fastball well and induced mostly soft contact. All four of the hits he gave up were singles. And during the Padres’ biggest threat in the fourth inning, when San Diego got an RBI single from Wil Myers and had runners on the corners with two outs, Kershaw ended the inning by fanning Jorge Alfaro — his third and final strikeout of the day.

Kershaw said he wasn’t focused on trying to reach Sutton’s mark Sunday but knows how close he is to his next career milestone.

“I’ve never really tried to think about strikeouts,” Kershaw said. “But it is something special and hopefully I do it at some point this year.”


His next scheduled opportunity: Saturday at Dodger Stadium, when he will have the chance to break the record in front of a home crowd against the Detroit Tigers.

“We got to have our cake and eat it,” Roberts said. “We won a game, he threw the ball well and we’ve got the opportunity to see him break Sutton’s record at home.”

While Kershaw cruised, the Dodgers’ offense dominated.

Despite entering the game with MLB’s second-worst team on-base plus slugging (OPS) against left-handed pitching this season, the Dodgers roughed up Padres southpaw Sean Manaea.

They opened the scoring in the first on a Justin Turner sacrifice fly that scored Mookie Betts, who bounced back from an 0-for-5 performance Saturday by reaching base three times and scoring three runs.

The Dodgers took a 3-0 lead on Freddie Freeman’s two-run blast in the third.

Dodgers' Cody Bellinger watches his three-run home run against the San Diego Padres.
Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger watches his three-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning on Sunday in San Diego.
(Mike McGinnis / Associated Press)

After rounding the bases to chants of “Fre-ddie! Fre-ddie!” from the Dodgers heavy contingent of visiting fans — Freeman said it was the first time his name had been chanted in an opposing ballpark — the first baseman celebrated by high-fiving his dad, who was seated next to the Dodgers dugout.


“I told Doc, ‘Man, I gotta really play well today or my dad’s gonna be mad at me,’ ” Freeman joked postgame. “It’s just nice to have him there and be able to share that moment.”

Then Bellinger delivered the knockout blows, hammering a solo home run to center field in the fourth and a three-run blast to right-center in the fifth.

It was Bellinger’s 14th career multi-home run game, the most in Dodgers history by a 26-year-old, according to ESPN.

It was his seventh multihit game this season, raising his early season batting average to .273 and OPS to .915 — both massive improvements from last year, when the center fielder set career lows across the board while battling injuries.

Dodgers pitcher David Price was put on the injured list Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19.

April 24, 2022

And on his way back to the dugout following the second blast — his team-leading fourth of the season — it was Bellinger’s turn to be serenaded by the swaths of blue-clad fans.

Their chant for him: “MVP! MVP!”

“Obviously, it’s a different type of grind when you’ve done things your whole life and it’s just not working out,” Bellinger said of his turnaround so far this season. “You have to adjust, just go back to the basics, and [now I’m] feeling good and just continuing to ride out the wave, ride out the season.”