LOS ANGELES -- Enough already with the bad blood and brushback pitches, Clayton Kershaw said after another scrap with the D-backs won by the Dodgers on Monday night, 3-1.
Kershaw won the duel of 21-game winners from last year, out-pitching Ian Kennedy as Matt Kemp's streak of consecutive games played ended at 399.
With Kemp and his sore left hamstring on the bench and third baseman Juan Uribe added to the disabled list, Andre Ethier (.462 on homestand) slugged his eighth home run as the Dodgers ran their win streak to five, and the lead in the National League West remained at six games. They are 13 games over .500, 16-3 at home and 13-4 against division opponents.
Kershaw (3-1) threw 108 pitches in seven innings, allowing four hits with six strikeouts, his ERA down to 2.22. He's won 11 of his last 12 decisions, 13 of his last 14 home decisions and is 4-0 lifetime against Arizona.
Kennedy was charged with all three runs (two earned) on six hits in six innings with five strikeouts. Aaron Hill ruined the shutout with an eighth-inning home run off Josh Lindblom. Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
Bad blood between Kershaw and the D-backs was in evidence in the third inning, when Kennedy threw inside and then behind Kershaw in an at-bat that ended in a walk. Kershaw retaliated in the fifth with a perfect brushback pitch that just missed Kennedy's armpit, and plate umpire Marvin Hudson issued warnings to both teams. Kennedy then also walked.
Last year Kershaw got into it verbally after D-Backs outfielder Gerardo Parra homered off Hong-Chih Kuo and watched it from the plate. The next night, Kershaw hit Parra with a pitch and was ejected.
"He's got pretty good command. Those were a little iffy there," Kershaw said of Kennedy. "Whatever. He missed. The part of it I don't understand, with all that stuff last year, I know it's old-school baseball for them or [Arizona manager Kirk Gibson] Gibby-style, whatever they call it. But I don't understand it.
"He throws three in there, two up and in and one at my shins and the catcher is saying he's just missing his spots? It's pretty obvious what they're doing. I don't understand it. The manager there is old school, but old school you let it go. If that's how they want to do it, in my opinion there's no place for it."
At least Kershaw addressed the animosity. The D-backs straight-faced it, saying they were pitching Kershaw inside because he's such a good hitter (.154 after going 0-for-1 with a walk).
"He's a good hitter, so I had to throw inside on him, and then the second one I just pulled way too much," Kennedy said. "Just trying to go inside. I went away with the next couple of pitches, but in the past you've got to go inside."
"We're just trying to go in on him," catcher Miguel Montero said. "We know he's got a long swing, he's got a pretty good swing. We just tried to go in on him and unfortunately he just ... I don't know, threw it too far in and he thought we were trying to hit him."
"They both got walked," Gibson said. "It was no big deal, no one got hit, two guys walked and the game went on."
The Dodgers threw some amazing defensive gems at the D-backs. Tony Gwynn, starting in center field for Kemp, preserved a 1-0 lead in the third inning after A.J. Pollock singled and was bunted to second by Kennedy. Willie Bloomquist lined a single to right-center. Gwynn charged, short-hopped the ball and fired a one-bouncer to catcher A.J. Ellis, who tagged out Pollock.
The ninth-inning saw a pair of plays above and beyond the call. First, James Loney reached far over the photo well to snag Paul Goldschmidt's foul popup for the first out.
But the highlight play of the game was Justin Sellers' sprinting catch into the stands of Montero's popup immediately following Loney's catch. On the dead run, Sellers (a defensive replacement at third base) raced into foul ground on the diagonal to glove the ball just as he hit, and sailed over, the auxiliary message board, smashing into several spectators but holding onto the ball as he fell between rows of seats.
He returned to the field, remained in the game for the final out and passed a postgame checkup with all body parts in place.
"Those three guys right there -- Tony, Sellers and Loney -- they're all Gold Glove types," Kershaw said. "Awesome defense all the way around."
Dee Gordon, whose struggling game has been under the microscope, answered with a single leading off the first inning and pestered Kennedy into an errant pickoff throw that allowed Gordon to race to third. Mark Ellis gave himself up with a one-hopper to the right side that scored Gordon.
Ethier's sixth-inning homer was followed by a single from A.J. Ellis (24th straight game reaching base), a hit-and-run single by Loney and Adam Kennedy's sacrifice fly.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.