SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw put together another dominant performance at AT&T Park.
His teammates are also getting comfortable at the Giants’ waterfront ballpark — and now they are right back in the thick of the NL West race.
Kershaw pitched a five-hitter for his second shutout of the season, and Los Angeles beat San Francisco 4-0 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep of the division-leading Giants.
“We understand this is our year. There’s no excuses,” Kershaw said after his second shutout of the season. “Everybody’s doing everything they can to put us in the right place to win. We just have to go out there and play now.”
That is a far cry from the feeling in the Dodgers clubhouse a month ago when they were shut out in three consecutive games and let a three-game lead in the division slip away.
San Francisco (55-46) still leads Los Angeles (56-47) by one percentage point with nine games remaining between the teams this season.
“This is going to be a battle through the next couple of months,” Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp said. “The last time we came here we were banged up. Now there’s the healthy Dodgers out there and we’re playing good.”
Kershaw (8-6) struck out seven and walked one in his fifth career shutout, beating the Giants for the first time in three starts this season. He lost both previous outings despite allowing only four earned runs in 14 innings.
Kershaw, 5-2 with a 0.66 ERA in eight career starts at AT&T Park, also survived a scare in the eighth when Marco Scutaro hit a line drive that ricocheted off the pitcher’s glove hand. Second baseman Mark Ellis retrieved the ball to make the out as Kershaw tossed his glove to the ground. He met briefly with a team trainer and manager Don Mattingly on the mound, then struck out Brandon Belt to end the inning.
“It puts us right back in the middle of things,” Kershaw said. “My fastball wasn’t great. I just didn’t have that little extra on it. But (my) offspeed was good and I mixed it up. It was just kind of a combination of everything, really.”
Ellis, Kemp, Andre Ethier and James Loney had two hits apiece, and Luis Cruz added two hits and drove in two runs for the Dodgers.
Blanked in a three-game series at San Francisco from June 25-27, Los Angeles outscored the Giants 19-3 in this series and didn’t give up a run during the final 20 innings.
San Francisco, which has lost four straight, didn’t get a runner past second and managed only three hits in the final seven innings. The Giants were swept at home by the Dodgers for the first time since June 28-30, 2010.
“That’s what happens when you face one of the best pitchers in the game right now,” San Francisco starter Ryan Vogelsong said. “If anything, this will make us a little mad and we can take it out on the Mets the next time in.”
The slumping New York Mets will visit the Giants for a four-game series that begins on Monday.
Vogelsong (8-5), who had won both of his prior matchups against Kershaw this year, allowed two runs — one earned — and six hits in six innings with five strikeouts and three walks. He lowered his ERA to a major league-leading 2.22.
Los Angeles went ahead with two runs in the fourth, following singles by Juan Rivera and Kemp. With runners at the corners and one out, newly acquired Hanley Ramirez grounded to third and beat second baseman Ryan Theriot’s relay throw to avoid a double play as Rivera scored. After Scutaro dropped Loney’s popup to third for an error, Cruz hit an RBI double.
Vogelsong struck out Kershaw with the bases loaded to end the sixth. The Dodgers added a pair of runs in the eighth against Jeremy Affeldt following a one-out double by Loney. Cruz and Mark Ellis hit RBI singles.
NOTES: Kershaw pitched a six-hit shutout against St. Louis on May 19. … Loney is hitting .328 in July (21-for-64). … The first seven hitters in the Dodgers’ order all had at least one hit. No. 8 batter A.J. Ellis walked four times. … Cruz has a career-best, 12-game hitting streak that is also the longest by a Dodgers player this season. … LHP Madison Bumgarner goes for his team-leading 12th win for San Francisco against the Mets on Monday. … Aaron Harang (7-5), knocked out in the fifth inning by Arizona on May 22, starts for the Dodgers in the opener of a three-game home set against the Arizona Diamondbacks.