Sharp Kershaw feels great, stretches out start

Dodgers ace opts to tack fifth inning on to spring outing

Sharp Kershaw feels great, stretches out start

SCOTTSDALE -- When times are tough for pitchers, they leave games early.

So when Clayton Kershaw threw one more inning than expected Sunday, it was a very good sign.

"I was better today," said Kershaw, who was happier about the five scoreless innings he threw in a 6-4 win over the Rockies than he was the three innings with one run against the Cubs five days earlier.

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Kershaw was scheduled for four innings, but his pitch count was low enough that he moved the extra throws he normally makes in the bullpen back into the game for an extra inning against opposing hitters.

Lucky them.

Kershaw's five scoreless innings

"Honey [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] asked what I wanted to do," said Kershaw. "If I have the choice, I'd rather pitch in a game."

Kershaw remains the one constant in a rotation that has already lost Brett Anderson, has shut down Hyun-Jin Ryu, won't have Brandon McCarthy back for months, doesn't know how successful Kenta Maeda will be adjusting to this side of the Pacific Ocean and will have Scott Kazmir follow up a shaky outing by pitching in a "B" game Monday instead of the Cactus League game that will be handled by fifth-starter candidate Mike Bolsinger.

Kershaw was critical of the two singles he allowed in the first inning, but he escaped by picking Charlie Blackmon off first base and getting slick defensive plays from third baseman Charlie Culberson and center fielder Joc Pederson, who made several tough catches look routine. The Rockies didn't get another hit off Kershaw.

Culberson's diving stop

"I didn't adjust as fast as needed," he said. "But overall, definite improvement."

Kershaw struck out three and has 10 strikeouts in 10 innings with a 0.90 ERA.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.