LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw saw his historic scoreless inning streak come to an end, but he still turned in a typical brilliant performance in a 2-1 win over the Padres on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw allowed a run in the six inning, but extended his scoreless streak to 41 innings, tied for the fifth-longest streak of the expansion era, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
"We're not supposed to give up runs," Kershaw said after the game. "That's our job."
Kershaw struck out 11 and walked one in his nine innings, allowing only three hits. For the first time since April 4, Kershaw qualifies for the ERA leaderboard with 95⅓ innings in 94 team games. His 1.775 ERA leads the majors, narrowly over Adam Wainwright (1.786).
With the win Kershaw improved to 11-2, and become the first Dodgers pitcher since Bob Welch in 1985 to win eight consecutive starts.
There was no-hitter energy in the ballpark, just as there always seems to be with Kershaw on the mound, especially of late. He did retire the first seven hitters of the game, but a one-out single by Alexi Amarista in the third inning ended that suspense rather early in the night.
Amarista reached second base, which was news in itself. With two outs Chris Denorfia, the man with three career home runs against Kershaw, grounded out to second base to end the threat.
San Diego dared to dream again in the fifth when Cameron Maybin drew a two-out walk and stole second base. But Amarista grounded out, again to second base, to end the inning.
During the streak, 18 hitters batted against Kershaw with runners in scoring position. They were 0-for-17 with eight strikeouts, nine groundouts and two walks, and haven't hit the ball out of the infield.
After stranding runners at third base in both the first and third innings, the fourth frame was telling a familiar refrain until with two outs Scott Van Slyke lofted a single into short right field for a 1-0 lead. He drove in Yasiel Puig, who led off the inning with a stand-up double off pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne.
Yes you read that right. The visual proof, thanks to Chad Moriyama.
That one run lead seemed insurmountable because, you know, Kershaw, so in the top of the sixth inning with Chase Headley at the plate I tried an attempt at humor.
You know it's weird, Clayton Kershaw hasn't even allowed a home run during this streak— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) July 11, 2014
A few pitches later Headley homered over the wall in left center field to tie the game at 1-1, and stop Kershaw's streak.
But the Dodgers got that run right back in the bottom of the inning, when Hanley Ramirez singled, stole second base and advanced to third on the throw, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez.
Despaigne allowed only two runs in his seven innings, pushing his grand total to four runs allowed in four major league starts. He kept the Dodgers off balance all night.
"He reminded me of Cracker Barrel. He had us in rocking chairs, rocking us back and forth," manager Don Mattingly said after the game. "He throws different angles, so many different pitches. He can throw a slow curve ball, he throws a little harder, he can cut a ball, he can make a ball run, he'll give you angles. Shoot, he his 95 once and 94 once. He's fun to watch."
Almost as fun as watching Kershaw.
Padres first baseman Tommy Medica left the game with right groin tightness after grounding out in the second inning. He was replaced in the field by Rene Rivera in the bottom of the inning.
Thursday was Kershaw's third complete game of the season and 13th of his career. The 115 pitches were a season high, beating his previous high of 109.
The 11 strikeouts marked the third double-digit strikeout game for Kershaw this season, all in his last three home starts, with 39 strikeouts and three walks in those starts.
"He was ahead in the account and the guys were swinging," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "They are an aggressive team."
People really believe in jinxes.
Home run: Chase Headley (7)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (11-2): 9 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
LP - Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1): 7 IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 7 strikeouts