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Clayton Kershaw collects 300th strikeout in Los Angeles Dodgers' win

By
Joseph D'Hippolito, The Sports Xchange
Los Angeles Dodgers' starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Los Angeles Dodgers' starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES -- Left-hander Clayton Kershaw again contributed to baseball's history by attaining an accomplishment he had yet to achieve.

Kershaw became the first major league pitcher in 13 years to strike out 300 batters during the Los Angeles Dodgers' 6-3 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday in front of 42,863 at Dodger Stadium.

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"It's definitely a cool thing," Kershaw said. "It's obviously not the most important thing in the world. But when you settle down and look back on a career, you get to say that you did it once."

Center fielder Joc Pederson and pinch-hitter Chris Heisey each hit a two-run home run, and shortstop Corey Seager added a solo drive in giving right-hander Joel Peralta (3-1) the win. Right-hander Chris Hatcher, the last of eight pitchers, struck out two of the three batters he faced to earn his fourth save.

The Dodgers will enter the National League Division Series' Game One in Los Angeles on Friday against the New York Mets with a four-game winning streak and with five victories in their final six games.

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Observers expected the Padres to contend for the playoffs after acquiring such stars as outfielders Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, right-hander James Shields and catcher Derek Norris. Though his team lost six of its final seven games to end a disappointing season, interim manager Pat Murphy expressed confidence in the future.

"With what we went through -- the pain, the struggles, the injuries, guys playing different positions -- I think it bodes well," Murphy said about his players. "I just noticed at the end that some of those guys who were hurt were starting to reach out to each other. They're starting to understand that they've got to be a team. They've got to play as a team."

"A lot of guys did some things to lay a foundation for the future. I think they'll set their own standards and be a force to be reckoned with. I really do."

Kershaw, who ends the season with a career-best 301 strikeouts, became the first pitcher to collect 300 since the Arizona Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling amassed 334 and 316, respectively, in 2002. The three-time winner of the National League's Cy Young Award also became the first Dodger to finish with at least 300 strikeouts since Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax struck out 317 in 1966, his final season.

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Padres center fielder Melvin Upton Jr. became Kershaw's 300th strikeout. On an 0-2 pitch, Upton Jr. swung at a 74 mph curveball to end the top of the third inning. Kershaw received a standing ovation when he walked back to the dugout and when left the game in the fourth upon reaching his limit of 60 pitches.

In 3 2/3 innings, Kershaw compiled seven strikeouts and allowed only two baserunners on singles. The left-hander, who needed six strikeouts to reach 300, retired 10 successive Padres from the first through the fourth innings.

"If my pitch count got there by the time I had six strikeouts, I would've come out of the game," Kershaw said. "Rest for the playoffs is more important than 300 strikeouts."

The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the second off left-hander Frank Garces, who made his first major league start. With catcher A.J. Ellis at first base, Pederson propelled Garces' 73 mph curveball into the seats down the right field line for his 26th home run of the season.

Garces (0-1) allowed two runs, two hits and two walks in his two innings while striking out two.

Los Angeles extended its lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the sixth with two home runs against right-hander Jon Edwards. Seager hit Edwards' first pitch, a 94 mph fastball, into the right-field bleachers for a solo homer, his fourth of the season. Heisey followed with this second home run, a two-run drive into the left-field bleachers.

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San Diego brought the potential tying run to the plate after narrowing its deficit to 5-3 in the seventh. With one out, right fielder Travis Jankowski broke the shutout with a three-run home run into the right-field bleachers. One out later, Upton Jr. doubled to right-center field. But pinch-hitter Tyson Ross, a member of the Padres' starting rotation, struck out to end the threat.

The Dodgers added a run in the eighth when second baseman Ronald Torreyes hit a single to send Pederson home.

NOTES: San Diego's pitching staff will finish with a club record for strikeouts, 1,393. ... The Padres' starters also established a team standard with 890 strikeouts from the rotation to break a 27-year-old record. ... Padres 1B Derek Norris made his 15th start at the position after starting 116 games behind the plate. ... Los Angeles SS Jimmy Rollins served as a guest manager Sunday, thus continuing a team tradition for the final home game of the season. ... Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig did not start Sunday after playing his first game since Aug. 27 on Saturday night. Puig entered Sunday's game in the fourth inning. ... Dodgers organist Nancy Bea Hefley will retire following the playoffs. She has been the club's organist since 1988.

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