It’s Clayton Kershaw and Dodgers’ hitters who are smokin’ this time
A day after a fire broke out at Dodger Stadium, Clayton Kershaw doused the remnants of a formidable lineup.
The Dodgers starter completed the second shutout of his career and provided a few sparks for his offensively challenged team Sunday afternoon during an 8-0 victory over the Florida Marlins.
The hit totals: Marlins two, Kershaw two.
While Kershaw had a pair of sharp singles, one of Florida’s hits was a not-so-routine fly ball that fell in left field after being buffeted by swirling winds.
Kershaw struck out 10, walked one and was equally impressive at the plate.
He ignited a four-run rally in the third inning with a single and drove in a run during another four-run outburst in the fifth by grounding into a force-out.
“I got made fun of enough last year for not hitting,” said Kershaw, a career .102 hitter who has already established a career high with six hits this season, “so I had to come in this year ready to hit.”
Generating offense was no problem for the team that entered the game with the third-fewest runs in the National League.
Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier and Jay Gibbons had three hits apiece as part of a season-high 17-hit attack. Fifteen of the hits came against starter Ricky Nolasco, tying an L.A. Dodgers record for most hits against one pitcher.
The Dodgers did much of their damage without their best hitter. Matt Kemp was ejected at the end of the fourth inning after complaining about a pair of called strikes as he walked off the field.
“I was just trying to fire the team up, and I guess it worked,” Kemp said. “We got a bunch of hits when I got kicked out.”
Kershaw got things started in the third with a single to left-center field that preceded Furcal’s first homer of the season. Furcal added two singles and has five hits in his last two games after a one-for-22 stretch last week.
“Spring training’s over,” Furcal said, alluding to the need to regain his timing at the plate after a nearly six-week injury layoff.
Kershaw joked that Furcal cost him a stolen base when the pitcher led off the fourth with a single and got a good jump on Nolasco with Furcal at the plate. Furcal singled to right field, advancing Kershaw to third base.
“I thought I could maybe swipe a base there,” Kershaw said, “but Raffy decided to get a hit instead.”
The Marlins, fielding a lineup devoid of leading hitter Greg Dobbs, a left-hander who was given the day off, and Hanley Ramirez, who departed after the first inning when his lower back stiffened, didn’t get a hit until Omar Infante led off the third with a single to left-center.
They needed an assist from the blustery conditions in the seventh to collect a second hit. Logan Morrison lofted a fly ball that got caught in the wind and fell several feet in front of left fielder Gibbons for a double.
“That ball went up and went about 30 feet to the left,” Gibbons said. “I’m going back to the wall and when I look up again, it was not even close to me.”
Gaby Sanchez followed with a popup that shortstop Furcal seemed to have a bead on after retreating into shallow left field before the ball fell out of his glove for an error.
But with runners on first and second and nobody out, Kershaw retired Mike Stanton on a ground ball before getting John Buck to hit into a double play.
It wasn’t long before Kershaw had his first shutout at Dodger Stadium and the Dodgers had their first series victory since taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs on April 22-24.
“That was about as good as we’ve played,” Kershaw said, “so it was fun.”
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