Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

L.A.’s Kershaw a hit at plate, on mound



PHOENIX – Clayton Kershaw celebrated his 21st birthday by hitting his first homer since high school, pitching five scoreless innings and leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.

An .069 hitter with two singles as a rookie last season, Kershaw connected in the third inning on the first pitch he saw from Franklin Morales.

“It’s been a good day so far, but I’d have to go home run for the highlight,” Kershaw said. “It’s always great to pitch good, but not too many opportunities to hit a home run. We hit every day in spring training, and this is the most I’ve worked on it. It might have been a get-me-over pitch and he didn’t think I’d swing at it.”

Rounding the bases was the tough part.

“I felt clueless out there, I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “I haven’t hit one since my senior year in high school, and that will be three years in May.”

On the mound, the No. 4 starter in the Dodgers’ rotation needed only 61 pitches and faced the minimum of 15 batters, thanks to a pair of double plays. His stint was so quick that he had to throw another 14 pitches in the bullpen to reach his count for the day.

“That was a good day’s work. Five innings was enough,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “To me (adding) the change-up has made a big difference. It added to the two-pitch variety and gives him something else to throw around the plate. They can’t be sitting on that thing when he throws (the fastball) 95 (mph).”

Dodgers catcher Russell Martin had an RBI double in the sixth. Martin, who is hitting .421 in the spring, and Andre Ethier each had two of the Dodgers’ six hits as the starters played into the seventh inning.

Christian Colonel doubled and scored on a double play in the sixth for the Rockies while Mike McCoy forced home a run with a bases-loaded walk in the seventh.

Morales, with the inside track to the No. 5 spot in the rotation, allowed all the Dodgers’ runs and hits in his five-inning stint but received high marks from manager Clint Hurdle.

“What you look for is him staying in command of what he’s in command of – the pace of the game and keep the ball down in the zone,” Hurdle said. “He has things he has to work on for the complete package, (but) he did a good job of challenging hitters in the strike zone and made some good pitches that he didn’t get calls on.”

NOTABLE: Outfielder Garrett Atkins remains out of the Colorado lineup with a groin injury. Rockies infielder Todd Helton remained in Tucson, as he normally does to save wear-and-tear on his troublesome back.

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