'Workhorse' pitches gem, plays second fiddle

Padres' Pomeranz allows just three hits, fans five in start vs. Kershaw

'Workhorse' pitches gem, plays second fiddle

LOS ANGELES -- Against just about any other starting pitcher, Drew Pomeranz's outing during the Padres' 1-0 loss Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium would have stolen the show.

But Pomeranz was not facing just any other starting pitcher. He was facing Clayton Kershaw.

The Dodgers ace was brilliant, as usual, locking up his 13th career shutout, while striking out 14. Meanwhile, the Padres settled for two of three over the weekend against the Dodgers. Pomeranz was forced to play second fiddle, despite allowing just one run on three hits over seven innings.

"He was very close to matching Kershaw, pitch-for-pitch," said manager Andy Green. "... When a guy pitches like that, he does enough for us to win. We, offensively, have got to find a way to pick our pitcher up."

The first month of the season has been a renaissance of sorts for Pomeranz, who didn't win a rotation spot until the final week of Spring Training. The 27-year-old left-hander spent the previous two seasons as a reliever in Oakland, but the Padres obviously saw some potential in moving him back into a starting role.

It's paid off big-time. Through five starts, Pomeranz has a 2.48 ERA and has been the club's best pitcher. Plus, he's showing off a repertoire that indicates he's in the rotation to stay.

Pomeranz credited his skipper for giving him the chance to succeed -- specifically allowing him to work deeper in ballgames.

"I told him I appreciate him running me out there," Pomeranz said. "I love it. The only way to get better is when you know you're going out there and they're not going to pull you out the second danger comes. It just makes you a better pitcher, mentally and all-around."

Pomeranz spoke to his last stint as a full-time starter -- his first couple seasons in Colorado, during which the Rockies experimented with a four-man rotation and a 75-pitch limit on their starters.

"Early in my career I went through a lot of different [stuff] as a starter -- a 75-pitch count in Colorado, that was my rookie year," Pomeranz said. "In college, I was throwing 100-120 every time. It's your game when you go out there. But when you start limiting guys to 75 pitches, it's not your game anymore."

After Pomeranz tied his career high with seven innings on Sunday, Green called Pomeranz "a workhorse" -- a title that Pomeranz had never been given the opportunity to earn before this season.

As for Sunday's game, Pomeranz was done in by a rocky third inning, in which he left a cutter over the middle to A.J. Ellis, who launched a double off the wall. Kershaw singled to plate Ellis, and that was all the offense -- for both teams -- on the afternoon.

"There's not really much to say. I threw a bad pitch to Ellis and Kershaw bounced one up the middle, and that's the game, I guess," Pomeranz said.

Afterward, Pomeranz got a ringing endorsement from a guy who knows a thing or two about curveballs.

"Give Pomeranz some credit," Kershaw said. "That is one of the better breaking balls I've seen in a long time."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.