LOS ANGELES (AP) It took Clayton Kershaw three starts to get his first victory and he still is trying to find his groove after putting together one of the greatest seasons any pitcher ever had.
The reigning NL MVP gave up two home runs against the Colorado Rockies, but struck out 12 over six innings Friday night to help the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-3.
The only other Dodgers to fan 12 in a six-inning start were Sandy Koufax (1963), Darren Dreifort (2003), Chad Billingsley (2008), Charlie Haeger (2010) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (2013).
''Obviously I threw too many pitches, but it was a little bit better,'' Kershaw said after his 104-pitch outing. ''My job is to go seven or eight innings every time. But give credit to the Rockies. They did a great job of battling and fouling off pitches. It just feels good to get a win.''
Kershaw (1-1) allowed three runs - one earned - and six hits, improving to 21-2 with a 1.69 ERA in his last 24 regular-season starts.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner wasn't nearly as dominating against the Rockies as he was last June, when he no-hit them. Kershaw surrendered a fourth-inning leadoff homer to Troy Tulowitzki and a two-run shot by Charlie Blackmon with two out in the fifth. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old left-hander is 12-2 with a 3.11 ERA in his last 19 starts against Colorado.
''There are things that I'd like to get better at,'' Kershaw said. ''I think my fastball location was a little better. I still missed up quite a bit, like I did with those two heaters on the home runs. But I'm still getting better with the off-speed stuff and I worked that in a little bit more.''
Kyle Kendrick (1-2) gave up six runs in the loss, including the first National League home run by Howie Kendrick.
''It's pretty funny when you're facing somebody with the same last name,'' the Dodgers' second baseman and cleanup hitter said. ''I faced him before when he was with the Phillies during interleague play with the Angels. We actually swapped jerseys at that time, and we never even planned it. It just happened that way.''
Colorado absorbed its first road loss after three-game sweeps at Milwaukee and San Francisco. The Rockies began this series with a one-game lead over the two-time defending NL West champion Dodgers, after finishing last season 28 games behind them with 96 losses.
Kyle Kendrick gave up seven hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings and was behind 3-0 in the first on just 15 pitches.
Jimmy Rollins, a teammate of the right-hander's in Philadelphia during the previous eight seasons, drew a leadoff walk from him in the first and stole second with one out before Adrian Gonzalez hit one over the head of center fielder Drew Stubbs for the first of his two RBI doubles.
''A leadoff walk can't happen, and I walked the leadoff guy,'' Kendrick said. ''They swung the bats pretty well, and I made some mistakes that got hit.''
Howie Kendrick, who hit all 78 of his previous homers with the Angels in nine seasons, sent the next pitch into the left field pavilion.
''It's just another one in the books, I guess. It's cool because it put a couple more runs on the board,'' he said. ''He left a few balls up over the plate for us, and we didn't miss them.''
Kershaw struck out the side on 16 pitches in the second inning and retired nine of his first 10 batters before Tulowitzki lined a 1-2 pitch into the lower seats in the left field corner to trim the Dodgers' lead to 3-1. It was his first home run of the season and 17th against Los Angeles.
Two batters later, Willin Rosario lined a single through the box that sent Kershaw spinning out of the way. Rosario stole second and tried to score on a two-out single by Corey Dickerson, but right fielder Andre Ethier made a perfect one-hop throw to Yasmani Grandal to get him.
The Dodgers made it 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth, when Grandal scored on Kendrick's wild pitch to Kershaw after a two-out intentional walk to Joc Pederson.
Blackmon responded in the sixth with his first homer in 61 career at-bats at Dodger Stadium. But LA extended the margin to 6-3 in the bottom of the inning with RBI doubles by Kendrick and Gonzalez, who is 22 for 40 with 11 RBIs and five home runs in his first 10 games.
Dodgers: RF Yasiel Puig sat out his third game with tightness in his left hamstring. His status lies somewhere between late-inning pinch-hitter or possibly landing on the disabled list, which was as specific as manager Don Mattingly could get during his pregame session with reporters.
Rockies: RHP Jordan Lyles (1-0) is 0-2 in three starts against Los Angeles, allowing 14 runs in 17 2-3 innings. He comes off a six-inning no decision against the Cubs in which his teammates committed three errors, resulting in two unearned runs.
Dodgers: RHP Zack Greinke (1-0) has allowed only one home run in 51 innings over his last eight regular-season starts. He is 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 13 career starts against Colorado.