ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers just keep winning when Clayton Kershaw is on the mound.
Kershaw took a shutout into the seventh inning in his first start at Tropicana Field and the Los Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3 on Tuesday night. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner (4-0) wound up allowing two runs, six hits, one walk and had eight strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
“I thought all night long, just mixing his pitches, changing locations, sequencing, everything was great,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said.
Los Angeles has won 15 consecutive regular season games starter by Kershaw. The left-hander is the only pitcher to have three separate streaks of 13 or more games (13 in 2014 and 16 in 2017) since 1920.
The Dodgers, with the National League’s best record at 32-17, have won six of seven. Tampa Bay dropped two games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees and are 13-13 since April 19th when it lead the division by 5 1/2 games.
The Rays were coming off a 13-5 loss Sunday to the Yankees.
“We did so many things really well early on in the year,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Unfortunately the last two days, just ugly losses.”
Kershaw had scattered four hits through six but was replaced by Pedro Baez with two on and one out in the seventh and Los Angeles up 6-0.
“Until that last inning everything went pretty well, not a whole lot of hard contact,” Kershaw said.
Baez departed after facing one batter when Willy Adames had an RBI infield single that bruised the reliever’s right knee. Baez needed assistance as he gingerly walked off the field.
X-rays were negative but manager Dave Roberts said Baez won’t be available Wednesday.
“It was loud hitting the knee cap,” Roberts said. “Since there’s no fracture, we’ll see how it responds tomorrow in treatment. We’ve got a couple days to assess where (he’s) is at.”
The Rays then got within 6-3 on a run-scoring single by Austin Meadows and Tommy Pham’s RBI double off Scott Alexander.
“I don’t know of any part of our game that we performed well,” Cash said. “I know we got going there late, but it was late.”
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first when Max Muncy had a bunt single and scored from first when right fielder Avisail Garcia misplayed Justin Turner’s single.
Roberts had David Freese pinch-hit when left-hander Jalen Beeks replaced opener Hunter Wood (1-1) to begin the third.
Freese doubled, went to third on Muncy’s grounder and scored as the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead on Turner’s sacrifice fly.
“They basically took what we gave them,” Pham said. “That’s what good players and good teams do.”
Austin Barnes put the Dodgers ahead 3-0 on a fourth-inning RBI single.
Run-scoring singles by Kike Hernandez, Corey Seager and pinch-hitter Joc Pederson off Beeks made it 6-0 in the seventh.
Pederson added an RBI double during the ninth,
Tampa Bay pinch-hitter Kevin Kiermaier was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple leading off the eighth.
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (right forearm strain) could resume playing catch next week. ... INF Yandy Diaz (bruised left hand) didn’t play. ... 3B Matt Duffy (strained left hamstring), who is also playing shortstop and outfield during his rehab assignment, joined Triple-A Durham, ... C’s Mike Zunino (left quadriceps strain) and Michael Perez (right oblique strain) may start rehab assignments next week.
Dodgers LHP Julio Urías was reinstated Tuesday from administrative leave by Major League Baseball. He was placed on leave while MLB officials looked into his May 13 arrest for investigation of misdemeanor domestic battery.
Los Angeles RF Cody Bellinger went 1 for 3 with two walks and had his average drop from .405 to .404.
PERFECT AGAINST THE ACE
Garcia went 2 for 2 with a walk against Kershaw, giving him four hits in four at-bats and two walks overall.
Dodgers LHP Rich Hill (1-1) will face an unannounced Rays reliever in Wednesday night’s finale of a two-game series.