Kershaw solid in final prep for Division Series

Kershaw solid in final prep for Division Series

SAN FRANCISCO -- Since the Dodgers clinched the National League West last Sunday, they've lost four of five and the home-field advantage to Washington for the NL Division Series, and on Saturday Clayton Kershaw suffered a rare loss at AT&T Park.

"We're on a little bit of a slide," manager Dave Roberts said after a 3-0 loss to the Giants, "but we're still in a good position."

While Kershaw (12-4) is positioned to start Game 1 of the NL Division Series, the loss positioned the Dodgers to play the first two games in Washington on Friday and Saturday. Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) will be in Los Angeles on Oct. 10 and 11.

Kershaw tuned up with seven solid innings. He was perfect through the first 11 batters, then allowed a solo home run to Giants security chief Angel Pagan and a pair of unearned runs in his final inning after third baseman Justin Turner grabbed a Brandon Crawford comebacker that Kershaw deflected and threw it past first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Naturally, Kershaw came away unimpressed with his outing, which dropped his career record against the Giants to 18-8 and his AT&T Park mark to 10-4.

"A few dumb pitches, really, today, a few I shouldn't have thrown," said Kershaw, who made 82 pitches. "Too much of the plate on a few of them. Overall, kind of a frustrating day."

Kershaw's curveball, spotty since he returned from 2 1/2 months on the sidelines with a herniated disk, was improved. He again showed the sidearm delivery, which had been in mothballs since it was his only delivery his junior year of high school.

"Scouts are having to write it down. It's in there," he said.

So, is he ready, bad back and all, for the postseason?

"Sure, yeah, I don't have a choice," he said. "I mean, I feel good, my arm feels good. I want to be perfect. It wasn't perfect today. Good enough. It looked bleak there for a little bit in the middle of the season, didn't know if I'd be able to make it to this point. But now that we're here, it's exciting. But it's only exciting if we win, so I'll try to win Friday."

Does not having the home-field advantage matter?

"It better not," he said. "We've done it both ways. We beat the Braves [without the home-field advantage in 2013] and lost to the Mets [with the home-field advantage last year]. We'll find out."

The curse of the left-handed opposing starter bit the Dodgers for the second consecutive game. And instead of Giants ace Madison Bumgarner on Friday night, it was rookie Ty Blach in only his second Major League start, becoming just the fourth Giants rookie pitcher to throw at least eight scoreless innings in a win against the Dodgers. They are 22-23 in games started by lefties this year.

"Today wasn't a good day. ... I think we gave away a lot of at-bats today," said Roberts. "Obviously we've got to be better. We're going to see a lefty [Gio Gonzalez] next series."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.