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LAD@PIT: Kershaw gives up three runs over eight

PITTSBURGH -- When Clayton Kershaw collects two hits and an RBI, it's pretty clear that the Dodgers' offense is in a groove.

That was the case on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, as the Dodgers tied a season high by racking up 15 hits, beating the Pirates, 9-3, in front of 26,522 fans at PNC Park. Shane Victorino and Andre Ethier had three hits apiece, while Mark Ellis and Hanley Ramirez each added two more.

For the first time since July 13, Los Angeles has sole possession of first place in the National League West, having ridden a four-game winning streak to the top of the standings.

"We've definitely been playing great baseball here the last four days," center fielder Matt Kemp said. "[We've] been getting big hits, timely hitting, great pitching. That's what's going to help us win, is good pitching and timely hitting."

The Dodgers excelled in all facets of the game on Wednesday. In addition to his offensive production, Kershaw was strong on the mound, continuing a string of solid pitching performances for Los Angeles by allowing just three runs over eight innings. In picking up his 11th win, he gave up six hits while racking up eight strikeouts.

"It was a good night," Kershaw said. "Anytime you get that many runs, you just kind of try to attack the strike zone and make them beat you. Fortunately, tonight I didn't walk anybody. Yeah, they got some hits, but when you have a 9-2 lead or whatever it was, you just kind of go out there and pound the zone and let your defense work."

And what about those offensive contributions?

"I had like a six-week stretch where I didn't get a hit," Kershaw said. "I was getting worn out. I had a good year last year hitting."

"I mean, all good hitters go in slumps," he added with a laugh.

Kershaw's plate prowess caught the attention of Kemp, who finished the evening with one hit. He did have three RBIs compared to Kershaw's one.

"I think he did a great job," Kemp said. "[He] was one of the best hitters -- he got more hits than me tonight. He did it all. He got hits, and he kept them to three runs. That's a pretty good hitting ballclub, so he did a great job tonight."

Pittsburgh's three runs were spread out. The home team scored on a solo shot by Andrew McCutchen in the fourth inning, a sacrifice fly by Garrett Jones in the second and a single by Clint Barmes in the eighth.

That wasn't enough to back starter Wandy Rodriguez, who took the loss, his third in four starts since joining the Pirates in a July 24 trade with Houston. He allowed five runs -- with one walk and one strikeout -- in 5 2/3 innings.

Rodriguez's effort couldn't compare with the one put forth by Kershaw, last season's NL Cy Young Award winner.

"You never worry about Kersh," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He doesn't let anything really roll over, for the most part. Andrew hits that homer on him, and he just kind of bears down and continues to go on. Guy hits a ball hard, and he just keeps coming after you. He's not a guy that, just because you hit him once, he's going to back off of you. He's still coming after you.

"He just keeps coming on the attack all the time. That's what I like about Clayton."

Kemp and Ramirez hit back-to-back doubles in the fourth inning, driving in a combined three runs. Kemp also picked up an RBI in the first, scoring Victorino with a ground ball to second. The Dodgers plated one run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Juan Rivera with the bases loaded.

In the seventh inning, the Dodgers piled on. A single by pinch-hitter James Loney and a ground-rule double by Luis Cruz both scored runs, as did sacrifice flies from A.J. Ellis and Kershaw.

"We executed tonight," Mattingly said. "We were able to tack on runs that were there for us if we could put the ball in play, and we were able to do that tonight."

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