LOS ANGELES -- On Friday night, the Dodgers looked like a playoff team.
Clayton Kershaw dazzled through eight shutout innings and the offense strung together 12 hits to defeat the Rockies, 8-0, before a crowd of 37,133 at Dodger Stadium.
But with the Cardinals taking care of business earlier in the evening, this new sense of urgency seems to be too little, too late. With only five games left on the schedule, the Dodgers remain three games back of the final Wild Card spot, with the Cards' magic number dropping to three.
With the Dodgers in need of considerable help to make the playoffs at this point, the players realize time isn't on their side.
"I'm just realistic," Kershaw said. "We are three games back with five to go. We pretty much need to win out. That is basically how it goes. We are playing great baseball right now. It's a cliche and everybody says it, but we've got to come up with more wins.
"We can't really worry about St. Louis. Obviously, we are watching. If somebody says they are not, they are lying. We want to know what they are doing and go take care of business when it's our turn."
Kershaw did just that on Friday.
Dealing with a right hip impingement the past couple of weeks, season-ending surgery seemed to be a likely possibility before the lefty sought a second opinion in New York last week.
But since being cleared to pitch again, Kershaw has looked like his normal, dominant self.
After walking five batters in five innings his last time out, Kershaw struck out 10, walked only two and gave up just five hits against the Rockies.
Neither Kershaw nor manager Don Mattingly could explain why he is suddenly looking like his reigning NL Cy Young Award-winning self again.
"It's always the same with how good this guy is," Mattingly said. "It's why everybody worries about him. That's why there is a fuss every time something goes wrong, because you know how good he is.
"He's just special."
Although Kershaw continues to insist he pitches the same way no matter the score, there is no denying a rare night of run support didn't hurt.
For the third straight game, the Dodgers scored eight runs, outscoring their opponents 24-6 in that span.
"This is what we are capable of," Mattingly said.
The scoring started in the second, when Adrian Gonzalez led off with a single that was followed by a walk to Hanley Ramirez and a bloop double over third baseman Chris Nelson by Andre Ethier to score Gonzalez. Shane Victorino followed with a three-run homer, his second since joining the team, for a 4-0 lead.
The Dodgers' offense wasn't done, but that was all the team needed on Friday.
"Too much Clayton Kershaw tonight," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Give credit where credit's due. The guy was terrific tonight, and actually as good a curveball as I've seen him have in any start that he's taken.
"When their starter is throwing the ball like he was throwing it, plus they get a four-run spot, that's going to be a large obstacle."
The Dodgers picked up another run in the fourth when Kershaw hit into a double-play with the bases loaded to score Ethier.
Bobby Abreu's two-run, pinch-hit homer and an RBI double by A.J. Ellis added to the rout in the eighth inning.
The Dodgers play Colorado two more times before hosting the Giants for the final three games of the season. If they can win out, they will still need a lot of help from the Cardinals, who face the Nationals for two more games, then the Reds for three to close out the regular season.
"We need to win tomorrow," Mattingly said. "We've got to keep pressure on St. Louis. We've got to force them to win everyday. That is what we have to do."
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.