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Clayton Kershaw pitches another shutout, right on cue

Harry How/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers needed a lot of innings from Clayton Kershaw on Monday night, and like a pharmacist he filled their prescription to precision, delivering a complete game shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Reds in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.

He was very economical, needing just 102 pitches to go the distance.

Kershaw pitched his third shutout of the month, the first Dodgers pitcher to do so since Tim Belcher in 1989.

Kershaw is the first Dodgers pitcher to last a seven or more innings in each of his first 10 starts of the year since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

The last pitcher in MLB to do it was Roy Halladay, who started 2009 with 13 such starts.

"Not only is he the pitcher of a lifetime or a generation, but he's a baseball player of a generation," manager Dave Roberts said. "Just his will to be great, it seems like every single time he takes the mound, he goes little league on us and does something to carry us on his shoulders and put us on his back."

Kershaw had a relatively rough beginning to his start, with Zack Cozart lining a double down the left field line on the first pitch of the game, followed one out later by a 3-0 count to Joey Votto, just the fourth 3-0 count issued by Kershaw this season. Votto lined out, and Brandon Phillips grounded out to strand Cozart at third base.

Opposing batters are 0-for-3 with a walk this season after a 3-0 count from Kershaw, with Hunter Pence the only one to get a free pass.

Votto did later walk against Kershaw, the fifth free pass issued this season by Kershaw, who has 95 strikeouts. But he is more impressed with his major-league-leading 79 innings pitched.

"Strikeouts are an out. It's just a byproduct of pitching. If I got 27 ground outs tonight, that would have awesome. Innings, especially after a game like yesterday, are important," Kershaw said. "Strikeouts are somewhat arbitrary. There are times and situations when you definitely need to strike guys out, but they aren't the most important thing."

The Dodgers got their run in the sixth inning on a walk by Justin Turner, a throwing error by catcher Tucker Barnhart on a back pick at first base, a check-swing single by Adrian Gonzalez over the third baseman's head, and a ground ball double play by Howie Kendrick.

There's your run, Clayton. And he made it hold up.

It was the first Dodgers win with no RBI since Aug. 27, 2015, and just the 19th since moving to Los Angeles.

Monday particulars

Home runs: none

WP - Clayton Kershaw (7-1): 9 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts

LP - Brandon Finnegan (1-3): 8 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts