Clayton Kershaw, budding ace, was doing his old nervous dance early. Giving up hits, walking guys, throwing too many pitches.
Trouble for the Diamondbacks was, after that he looked like the more recent version of Kershaw, throwing nothing but blanks in his seven innings, as the Dodgers overcame a nervous ninth to take a 4-3 victory over Arizona before an announced crowd of 35,506.
After pitching out of early trouble, Kershaw retired his last 14 consecutive Diamondbacks. He struck out a season-high 11 on the night. He looked exactly like the ace the Dodgers believe he’s becoming.
The victory raised Kershaw’s record to 5-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.75.
Vicente Padilla gave up a pair of ninth-inning runs and was unable to earn the save. With two runners on, the Dodgers went to Kenley Jansen to get the last out, and he earned the first save of his year. Jansen struck out Melvin Mora on a 97-mph fastball for the final out.
It was not exactly an anomaly that Kershaw had to pitch out of trouble in two of the first three innings.
In the first, Chris Young and Mora led off with back-to-back doubles -- and the Diamondbacks failed to score. Mora’s was a blooper in shallow right that had first baseman James Loney and second baseman Aaron Miles run into each other, the ball going off Miles’ glove.
Young, having to hold halfway to second in case the ball was caught, could only advance to third. Kershaw then struck out Xavier Nady and Stephen Drew, and popped up Justin Upton.