LOS ANGELES (AP) Clayton Kershaw tied a career high with his 21st victory, Yasiel Puig homered to highlight a four-run sixth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West title with a 9-1 victory over the second-place San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.
Fittingly, the Dodgers claimed their second straight division title behind Kershaw (21-3), the probable NL Cy Young Award winner and MVP candidate who has been the catalyst behind their success this season.
He didn’t pitch lights out getting called for a balk and wild pitch and he committed a throwing error in the seventh but he did a little bit of everything, including hitting and fielding to ensure the Dodgers’ celebrated in front of their longtime rivals.
Kershaw allowed one run and eight hits in eight innings, struck out 11 and walked none in his last start of the regular season, having won his final seven starts. He became the first player to lead the major leagues in ERA (1.77) in four consecutive seasons.
Kershaw tied his career high in wins from 2011. The Dodgers are 23-4 in his 27 starts this season.
“MVP” chants directed at Kershaw from the sellout crowd of 53,387 broke out throughout the game, but grew loudest after he retired the side in the eighth, striking out two.
Juan Uribe went 2 for 4 and drove in three runs, and Carl Crawford was 2 for 2 with three runs scored and two RBI for Los Angeles.
The Dodgers snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth, with Puig hitting a leadoff homer off Tim Hudson (9-13) to get things started. Crawford’s two-run double off Javier Lopez made it 4-1 and Uribe followed with a RBI single off Jean Machi for a 5-1 lead.
Puig showed off his arm in the top of the seventh. Pinch-hitter Matt Duffy singled to center, where Puig grabbed the ball, spun around and fired to third, nailing Gregor Blanco as he slid in.
The Dodgers tacked on four more runs in the eighth, when Giants pitchers walked four batters and hit another.
The loss again kept the Giants from clinching a playoff berth.
Hudson gave up three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings, struck out four and walked one.
Kershaw tied the game 1-1 with his first career triple in the fifth, scoring Crawford, who got hit in the left foot by a pitch and then stole second. Kershaw chugged into third base standing up.
The Giants led 1-0 when Hunter Pence grounded into a fielder’s choice along the third base line in the third. Joaquin Arias scored from third, narrowly beating the throw from Uribe.
Kershaw had a bit of a messy third, when he allowed four baserunners, his most of any inning. With runners on first and second he was called for a balk, allowing the runners to move up. Kershaw showed quick reflexes facing his next batter. Hudson hit a comebacker and Kershaw, down on his right knee with his back toward the plate, reached around, backhanded the ball and threw to first for the out.
Kershaw gave up a pair of two-out singles in the sixth and the runners moved up on his wild pitch. He induced a groundout to the mound from Chris Dominguez to end the inning.
Giants: C Buster Posey started at first base. He experienced tightness in his back after catching all 13 innings on Monday and eight on Tuesday. ... OF Michael Morse (strained oblique) is questionable for the San Diego series starting Thursday.
Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder inflammation) is expected to throw from a mound in the next day or so, but there are no plans for him to pitch before the playoffs begin.
Giants: Yusmeiro Petit (5-5, 3.63 ERA) starts the series opener at home against San Diego. The right-hander joined the rotation on Aug. 28 in place of Tim Lincecum. He is 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA in four appearances against the Padres.
Dodgers: Roberto Hernandez (8-11, 4.08) starts the series opener against Colorado. The right-hander last faced the Rockies on Sept. 15 on the road, allowing two runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings, but didn’t factor in the decision in an 11-3 victory.