LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw toyed with yet another opponent.
Kershaw became the major leagues’ first 18-game winner, Yasiel Puig ended a 60 at-bat RBI drought, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Padres 9-4 on Monday night.
Hanley Ramirez tied a season high with four hits and drove in two runs, helping the Dodgers increase their NL West lead to 3 1-2 games over the idle San Francisco Giants. Juan Uribe and Carl Crawford homered for Los Angeles.
Kershaw (18-3) reduced his major league-best ERA to 1.67, allowing three runs — one earned — and three hits while striking out eight in eight innings.
"It was a good night for us. There wasn’t a whole lot of stress because we got some runs early — and we haven’t had too many of those," said Kershaw, who hadn’t received more than four runs of support while he was in the game in any of his previous seven outings. "Obviously when you get that big of a lead, you just want to pound the zone. I got some good plays defensively behind me."
The Padres scored two unearned runs against the to-time NL Cy Young Award winner in the sixth on Rene Rivera’s routine flyball to center field that resulted in throwing errors by Puig, catcher A.J. Ellis and shortstop Ramirez — on the same play.
"You can laugh about it now because we won pretty good. Luckily it wasn’t zero-zero or anything," Kershaw said.
Kershaw is 15-1 with a 1.20 ERA and six complete games in his last 18 starts, including a no-hitter. He has a chance to become the first Dodgers starter to finish with an ERA under 2.00 in consecutive seasons since Sandy Koufax (1963-64).
"Clayton never really broke focus tonight and he made pitches when he had to," Ellis said. "Clayton is so specific in his pregame meeting with what he wants to do and how he wants to work. He’s just going to keep coming at you and let his stuff take over."
Odrisamer Despaigne (3-6) was charged with seven runs — six earned and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings.
"He was a little rough, a little spotty," manager Bud Black said. "His stuff was fine, but he just couldn’t string any pitches together and they bunched some hits against him."
The Dodgers staked Kershaw to a 2-0 lead with an RBI single by Ramirez in the first, and an opposite-field drive by Uribe in the second inning.
The Padres, whose six-game losing streak is their longest of the season, got one of the runs back in the fourth on Rivera’s RBI single. But the Dodgers extended their margin to 4-1 in the bottom half.
Puig drove in Matt Kemp with a single for his 60th RBI and first since Aug. 15. Two batters later, Ellis snapped an RBI drought of 31 at-bats when he grounded to second with the infield in.
The Dodgers blew it open with four in the eighth. Kemp chased Despaigne with an RBI double that extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Crawford then greeted Frank Garces with his seventh homer, a three-run shot that made it 8-1.
STARTING THE WAY THEY’LL FINISH
The 2015 major league schedule was unveiled on Monday, and the Padres will open up the season with a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. They also will wind up the regular-season with a three-game set at Chavez Ravine.
Padres: SS Everth Cabrera, who hasn’t played since Aug. 9 because of a left hamstring strain, could be activated during next weekend’s series in Arizona. He was arrested Wednesday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. … Neither Joaquin Benoit nor Blaine Boyer, both experiencing shoulder problems, were available out of the bullpen.
Dodgers: Reliever Paco Rodriguez (elbow) continued to throw on flat ground and is scheduled to have a bullpen session in a couple of days.
Padres: Andrew Cashner (2-7, 2.39 ERA) is 0-5 in his last 10 starts despite a 2.90 ERA during that stretch.
Dodgers: Roberto Hernandez (8-10, 4.00 ERA) allowed four homers last Monday in a 6-4 loss to Washington. He is 2-2 with a 4.61 ERA in five starts since he was acquired from Philadelphia on Aug. 7.