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STL@LAD: Abreu, Ethier score first two runs on error

LOS ANGELES -- During Saturday's 6-0 win over St. Louis, the Dodgers found a short-term solution for the absence of half of their starting lineup:

Send reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to the mound.

On the day same day second baseman Mark Ellis was placed on the disabled list, making it four starters and five players to hit the DL in the last two weeks, Kershaw dominated the Cardinals to the tune of his fourth career shutout, a six-hitter. It was the Dodgers' sixth straight win over St. Louis.

With his seventh career complete game, and first this season, Kershaw extended his scoreless streak to 22 innings. In his last 19 starts at Dodger Stadium, he has been dominant in posting a 14-1 record.

In his office after the game, manager Don Mattingly didn't have much to say about Kershaw. He's seen that type of dominance from his ace before and has just about used up all the adjectives.

"Pretty good tonight," Mattingly said, coyly. "The swing's getting a little long."

But even Mattingly's joking observation of a long swing didn't seem to be a problem for Kershaw, who hit an RBI double in the seventh inning, the first extra-base hit of his career.

Kershaw and batterymate A.J. Ellis changed their game plan early when the Cardinals' hitters seemingly jumped at every fastball Kershaw threw early in the count. Kershaw responded by throwing his devastating slow curveball that seemed to gain more bite as the game went on.

"You just try to establish your fastball, and they were showing that they were going to swing at it, a lot," Kershaw said. "It's a game of adjustments."

The Dodgers took the lead in the fourth inning by scoring twice on an Adam Kennedy ground ball that skipped past Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter, who was charged with an error.

Bobby Abreu had ignited the inning by drawing a nine-pitch walk off Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook, and Andre Ethier followed by roping a double to left. Then, Carpenter, who had entered the game to replace an injured Lance Berkman, misplayed a backhanded short hop and the ball bounded into right field, while both runners scored.

"We had a pretty good duel, a couple good pitchers," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "When you go up against a lineup like that, when you go up against a pitcher like Kershaw, you know that any kind of mistake is probably going to cost you. And it did."

In the seventh inning, Justin Sellers, playing in place of slumping shortstop Dee Gordon, launched his first home run of the season and the second of his career. It kick-started a four-run rally that put the Dodgers up, 6-0.

In spite of the slew of recent injuries, the Dodgers banged out nine hits, four of them for extra bases.

"We've got to find a way to win a game every day, somehow some way," Mattingly said of his team's ability to grit through the bumps and bruises. "We're getting hits from different people, kind of chipping away. If we keep giving ourselves opportunities, we've got a chance to score runs."

Ellis, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles on Saturday and has now reached base in 28 consecutive games, gave Mattingly the credit for his "win-every-day mentality."

"It's infectious, and this clubhouse has a really fun buzz," Ellis said. "There's a lot of confidence in here right now."

Ellis said he's noticed hitters swinging early in the count at Kershaw's fastball this season. As a result, Kershaw has thrown more off-speed pitches in traditional fastball counts -- especially his curveball.

That curve was deadly on Saturday because of its ability to change the timing of the Cardinals' hitters, Ellis said.

"The trend we've seen this year is teams being aggressive early in the count all year off him," Ellis said. "They don't want to get to that two-strike, off-speed stuff that's so devastating. So tonight was a good night. He pitched backwards a lot."

Shutting out the heavy-hitting Cardinals -- the defending champs with the second most runs scored in the National League this season -- is no small feat, and Kershaw is well aware of that.

"They have a great hitting team," Kershaw said. "[Carlos] Beltran is on fire, obviously [Matt] Holliday is a superstar. They've got a lot of guys, especially with Rafael [Furcal] swinging the bat the way he is."

He then paused and made what could be deciphered as a thinly veiled playoff reference (although the Dodgers and Cardinals will meet nine more times this season).

"We'll see them again, hopefully," he said.

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