Kershaw strikes out 14 in Dodgers' 4-1 win over Cubs
LOS ANGELES (AP) There's no personal statistic that impresses Clayton Kershaw much, including leading the major leagues with 236 strikeouts.
The left-hander can even find a way to turn that stat on its head.
''Leading the league in outs is cool,'' he said after striking out a season high-tying 14 in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 4-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
The NL West-leading Dodgers won their fourth in a row returning home for the first time in two weeks.
Kershaw (11-6) allowed one run and three hits in eight innings, and walked one.
''He's the best lefty in the game, and the best pitcher in the game as well,'' said Cubs catcher Miguel Montero, who was 0 for 3 against Kershaw.
''It's really pick your poison - fastball, breaking ball, curve ball - he's effective with all three and he doesn't make too many mistakes,'' he said. ''His command of the strike zone is pretty good, and his secondary pitches are just nasty.''
Kershaw remains unbeaten in his last 10 starts, going 6-0 with an 0.92 ERA since July 3. He has struck out 96 and walked just eight in that span.
''I take outs as fast as possible,'' said Kershaw, whose quick outing contributed to a game time of just under 2 1/2 hours.
He won for the first time in three outings after the Dodgers wasted two gems by the left-hander - 10-inning walk-off losses in Oakland on Aug. 18 and in Houston last Sunday.
Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 26th save in 28 chances.
Kershaw allowed a run for the first time in 31 1/3 innings at home - longest such streak in the majors this season - in the fourth on Anthony Rizzo's 26th homer that tied it at 1-all.
The Cubs fell to 5-3 against former Cy Young Award winners this season, having lost to San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner a night earlier. They beat Kershaw 4-2 in Chicago on June 22.
''We saw Kershaw in Chicago, and he was fabulous here,'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. ''We fought and we played hard. But we were schooled a little bit tonight again. But that needs to happen for us to get better.''
Jason Hammel (7-6) gave up three runs and four hits in five-plus innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked three.
''Kershaw was locked in from the first pitch, and I felt good too,'' Hammel said. ''It had the feelings of a good pitchers' duel, but I was kind of the first one to blink.''
The Dodgers capitalized on the Cubs' pitching breakdowns in the sixth, scoring three runs to take a 4-1 lead. Hammel had two wild pitches in the inning before left-hander Travis Wood relieved him.
Chase Utley scored in his first home game for the Dodgers and Adrian Gonzalez was safe at second base on a throwing error by Montero, putting Los Angeles ahead for good, 2-1.
Pinch-hitter Scott Van Slyke grounded into a double play, scoring Gonzalez. They added another run on Kike Hernandez's RBI single.
Utley's triple to deep center field gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the third.
In the middle of the second inning, the Dodgers revealed on the video board that 87-year-old Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully is planning to return for his record 67th season in the booth next year.
''As long as he can go, I know the fans love listening to him,'' Kershaw said. ''Great to have him back.''
Dodgers: RF Yasiel Puig went on the 15-day DL with a strained right hamstring, the same problem that caused him to sit out on Aug. 19 at Oakland. At that time, it was described as a ''mild strain.'' Now, manager Don Mattingly said the injury Puig sustained in the ninth inning Thursday at Cincinnati is ''not very mild.'' Puig was on the DL from April 26-June 6 with a left hamstring strain.
Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins recorded his 10,000th plate appearance in the first inning, becoming the fourth active player in the majors to reach that mark. He trails Alex Rodriguez (11,843), Adrian Beltre (10,460) and Ichiro Suzuki (10,011).
Fernando Rodney made his debut for the Cubs after being acquired from Seattle on Thursday. He tossed one inning of scoreless relief. The move reunites him with Maddon, who managed him in Tampa Bay.
''I know he's had some struggles this year. We did some research on it, so we tried to figure out what the differences were,'' Maddon said. ''We have some ideas. He had the most significant year of a relief pitcher ever when we had him in the Bay.''
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (8-9, 3.44 ERA) makes his first road start since July 18 at Atlanta. He is 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this season. He fell one out short of a complete game shutout in his previous start at Cleveland on Aug. 24, allowing the game-tying run with two outs in the ninth.
Dodgers: RHP Mat Latos (4-9, 4.81) will start for the first time since Aug. 13, when he allowed five runs (four earned) and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings against Cincinnati. He last faced the Cubs on July 5 with the Marlins, allowing one run and one hit in seven innings in a 2-0 loss.