LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw struggled, especially in the middle innings, but the middle of the Dodgers order was willing and able to pick him up, leading the Dodgers to a 7-3 win over the Rockies on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
Howie Kendrick homered and doubled, Adrian Gonzalez doubled twice, and the 3-4 hitters combined to drive in five runs in the Dodgers' fifth straight victory.
During those five wins, the Dodgers have scored at least five runs in each game. The five-game streak of five or more runs is the longest by the Dodgers in the same season since Aug. 7-11, 2013.
Struggling is a relative term with Kershaw, who did pitch six innings. But he struggled with command a good portion of the night, missing some spots. The result was three runs allowed, including two home runs. He was out after 104 pitches in six innings.
"Tonight the curve ball was better, but with the slider I left a lot up, got a lot of foul balls and ran the pitch count up," Kershaw said.
But Kershaw is still Kershaw, and managed to strike out 12 batters while walking one, and picked up his 99th career victory.
"I still think Clayton's searching," manager Don Mattingly said. "I'm sure he's not totally happy with what's going on. He had a bunch of punchouts tonight. His slider didn't seem consistent to me, but obviously really good, still."
Off the shneid, part 1
Kendrick was hitting a perfectly fine .324/.410/.471 entering Friday night, but had zero home runs, making the Dodgers one of just seven teams in MLB with no home runs out of the cleanup spot. Kendrick rectified that on Friday night with a shot into the left field pavilion in the first inning, a two-run home run that gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
"Once you get out on the field, it's all about trying to hit mistakes," Kendrick said. "[Kyle Kendrick] left a few balls up and we didn't miss them."
In their first eight games, the Dodgers were outscored in the first inning 10-1, but in each of their last two games they have lead 3-0 after one inning of play.
Off the shneid, part 2
With two outs in the second inning, Kershaw lined a ball down the right field line for a two-out double, the seventh extra-base hit of his career, and fifth double. It was the first hit of the season by Dodgers pitchers, who were 0-for-17 with two walks, 11 strikeouts and two sacrifice hits before Kershaw's double.
Making his third consecutive start in right field, and his fifth outfield start in the last six contests, Andre Ethier was 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. But his biggest contribution came in the fourth inning when he threw out Wilin Rosario at home plate:
Dodgers relief pitcher Yimi Garcia was brought in to pitch to the heart of the Rockies order in the eighth inning, beginning with Troy Tulowitzki, who homered earlier in the game. Garcia retired Tulo, then allowed a single to Nolan Arenado, followed by strikeouts of Rosario and Nick Hundley to end the inning.
Garcia has faced 26 batters this season. They are 3-for-25 (.120) with one intentional walk and 12 strikeouts.
Up four runs in the ninth, Adam Liberatore made his major league debut. He retired all three batters he faced to close out the game, including a strikeout of Michael McKenry to end it, Liberatore's first major league strikeout.
Home runs: Howie Kendrick (1); Troy Tulowitzki (1), Charlie Blackmon (1)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (1-1): 6 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), 1 walk, 12 strikeouts
LP -(1-2): 4⅔ IP, 7 hits, 6 runs, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts