LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw took the loss on Saturday night, allowing three runs to the Pirates while pitching into the eighth, but the Dodgers left-hander did continue to climb the strikeout ladder.
Kershaw struck out eight on Saturday night, the 21st time in 30 starts this season he has struck out at least eight hitters. His 272 strikeouts lead the majors, and are the fourth most in Dodgers history, behind only a trio of 300-strikeout seasons by Sandy Koufax.
Kershaw's strikeout rate this season is 32.9 percent, above even last year when he set a new career high at 31.9 percent.
No pitcher in baseball has reached 300 strikeouts since Randy Johnson (334 strikeouts) and Curt Schilling (316) each did so for the 2002 Diamondbacks.
Kershaw is now 28 shy of 300 with at least two starts remaining an likely a third, tuneup start on the season's final weekend. He has averaged nine strikeouts per start on the season, so odds are that Kershaw might fall just short, especially if his final start is a shortened affair.
But the 272 strikeouts already are an impressive achievement. This is just the 59th season in the modern era (since 1901) of at least 272 strikeouts. If Kershaw can get to 290, he'd have the 40th such season.
There have been 33 seasons of 300 or more strikeouts since 1901.
Kershaw did set an MLB record on Saturday, actually extending a record that he already owned. With three runs allowed in seven innings, Kershaw pitched his 31st consecutive quality start at home, dating back to Sept. 13, 2013.
In those 31 starts at Dodger Stadium, during that span, Kershaw is 21-6 with a 1.62 ERA, with 298 strikeouts and 31 walks in 233⅔ innings.
The Dodgers go for their eighth straight series win on Sunday afternoon, with Mike Bolsinger on the mound in the series finale. Pirates ace Gerrit Cole starts for Pittsburgh.