"It was good to see Kershaw back to his self," Dodgers leftfielder Carl Crawford said. "He struggled his last few outings. To get him back on track is a plus for us."
Two solo home runs by Crawford were more than enough for Kershaw, who had an 0-3 record and a 8.47 ERA in four previous starts against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. But they had no answer for the Dodgers lefty this time.
Kershaw, who wasn't available for comment after the game because he rushed off to tend to a "personal matter," settled into a groove after giving up three hits to the first five batters he faced. He retired 18 in a row from the second inning until the eighth, when he gave up a lead-off double to left-center to Carlos Gomez. But Kershaw, who threw 117 pitches, finished off the Brewers without any further damage in the inning.
Brandon League retired the side in the ninth for his eighth save.
It marked the fifth time Kershaw (3-2) has struck out at least 12 and the 19th game he has recorded 10 or more strikeouts. The 12 strikeouts are one short of his career high.
He struck out at least two batters in six of the eight innings he pitched. The last time he faced the Brewers at Dodger Stadium Kershaw gave up five runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 6-3 loss on May 30, 2012.
But with Crawford providing a cushion, it was more than enough for Kershaw and the Dodgers (12-12), who took two of three in the weekend series from the Brewers (12-11).
"Clayton's always driven," Mattingly said. "He's just a grinder."
Crawford led off the game with a solo home run, tagging Kyle Lohse's first pitch and driving it over the centerfield wall for a 1-0 lead.
"A lot of guys have been getting ahead with the first pitch right down the middle," said Crawford, who notched his sixth career multi-homer game, the last one coming in 2010 against Cleveland. "I just picked a day to be aggressive with the first pitch."
In the fifth, Crawford drilled an 0-2 pitch from Lohse into the right-field bleachers for the game's final run with two outs.
Crawford said he feels at ease since the Dodgers' coaching staff has encouraged him to be aggressive at the plate instead of focusing on taking pitches like many lead-off hitters frequently do.
"They've pretty much given the freedom to be myself," Crawford said. "I just like to put a good swing on the ball. It's times for that (taking pitches). But for the most part, I'm trying to hit balls in the gap."
Lohse (1-2) pitched well, limiting the rest of the Dodgers' lineup to only three hits on four strikeouts and no walks in seven innings. But the two mistakes to Crawford cost him. Entering Sunday's game, Lohse had given up only one home run in 25 innings.
NOTES: Hanley Ramirez, who went 1-for-3 with two RBI in a rehab start Saturday at single-A Rancho Cucamonga, could be in the Dodgers' lineup as early as Monday. Dodger manager Don Mattingly didn't rule out Ramirez possibly returning when the Dodgers host the Rockies Monday, saying it was up to the club's medical staff. "I think anything's possible the way he looked (Saturday)," Mattingly said referring to Ramirez's rehab performance. "If medical says this guy is ready to play..." then Ramirez will play Monday. ... Dodgers prospect Yasiel Puig was arrested and charged with speeding, reckless driving and driving without proof of insurance in Chattanooga, Tenn., early Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Puig, a 22-year-old Cuban defector, inked a seven-year, $42-million deal last summer with the Dodgers. ... The Brewers went 3-3 on their road trip and were blanked for the third time this season.
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