Kershaw wins 16th, Dodgers beat Padres 1-0
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Clayton Kershaw is ready for the playoffs.
The left-hander shut down San Diego for six innings in his final regular-season start and Chris Taylor scored from first base on Max Muncy’s single in the sixth to lead the seven-time NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers to a 1-0 victory Thursday and a three-game sweep of the Padres.
Now he’ll wait to see how manager Dave Roberts draws up the postseason rotation.
“If I had pitched bad today it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but it wouldn’t have been fun, going into the postseason having struggled,” Kershaw said. “It’s definitely good to get some momentum going, get some confidence going, realizing the pitches I need to make are still in there today. It was a good one for sure.”
Kershaw (16-5) allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked one.
He improved to 13-0 in his last 19 starts against San Diego. He hasn’t lost to the Padres since June 21, 2013.
“I wanted to go as much as a could today. Obviously it was still a little bit abbreviated there. I felt like my stuff was a little bit crisper and command was a little better overall. It was a good one to build on.”
He retired the side in the second through fifth innings.
“I liked the command of the fastball,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I think he was getting ahead all day and he had his way with those guys, and it’s tough when you’ve seen guys a lot and you have to play cat and mouse. But Clayton can get ahead. He has a lot of options.
“To see him throw six scoreless and the pen to follow suit, it was a good day for us.”
Roberts has said only that Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler will start in the postseason, but said the decision hasn’t been made in what order.
“We’re going to talk to all three of those guys and figure out what makes the most sense for them individually and more importantly, for us,” he said. “We’re going to kind of get those three together and figure that out.”
He said it was nice to see Kershaw — who is 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA in the postseason — finish strong.
“With Clayton, you know he’ll be ready when the bell rings,” Roberts said. “For him, his confidence, for him to go out there and command the baseball the way he did today, obviously going into the postseason, that’s a very good thing.”
Padres interim manager Rod Barajas said it was tough to get a read on Kershaw.
“He’s elite. On days like this, you’re hoping to scratch one run across against him,” Barajas said.
The Dodgers have won four straight and nine of 12 heading into their final regular-season series at San Francisco. They begin pursuit of a third straight NL pennant next Thursday night at Dodger Stadium against the wild-card winner.
Kenta Maeda came on with Wil Myers aboard on a leadoff single in the ninth and retired the side for his third save. He struck out Manny Machado, who was with the Dodgers for the second half of 2018 and their World Series loss to the Boston Red Sox, and Hunter Renfroe before getting Seth Mejias-Brean to fly out.
The Dodgers had five hits and the Padres only three.
The Padres, who fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, lost for the 12th time in 14 games and closed within one defeat of their fourth-straight 90-loss season. San Diego has missed the playoffs for the 13th straight season and will have a losing record for the ninth straight year.
“It’s tough, you know. I think the city deserves better,” infielder Luis Urias said. “I know we’re better than this but it is what is and we’ll learn from it.”
Muncy’s hit broke up a duel between Kershaw and Joey Lucchesi (10-10).
Lucchesi held the Dodgers hitless until rookie Will Smith singled leading off the fifth. The left-hander almost got out of the sixth but walked Chris Taylor and then gave up Muncy’s single into the gap in left-center. Taylor hustled all the way around from first and scored when Austin Hedges couldn’t handle the relay throw from shortstop Luis Urias.
The Padres did throw out Kristopher Negron trying to score on David Freese’s grounder to short in the third.
Lucchesi allowed one run and three hits in six innings, struck out six and walked two.
Thursday’s crowd of 26,285 at Petco Park gave the Padres a home total of 2,396,399, an average of 29,585. That’s up from 2,103,420 fans (26,967 average) for 78 home games last year, when they played three games against the Dodgers in Monterrey, Mexico.
Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was out of the lineup with back tightness. Roberts said the injury popped up during batting practice on Wednesday. SS Corey Seager was out with a tight left hamstring. Seager came out of Wednesday night’s game and Roberts said then he expects the shortstop to be back Friday night.
Dodgers: Buehler (13-4, 3.25) is scheduled to start Friday night’s opener of a three-game series at San Francisco.
Padres: LHP Eric Lauer (8-10, 4.53) is scheduled to start Friday night’s opener of a three-game series at Arizona, which is expected to counter with RHP Taylor Clarke (5-5, 5.40).