Kershaw, bullpen shine as Dodgers top Padres

LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw is learning how to control his emotions on the mound, and it's paying off in his performance.

Kershaw pitched 7 1/3 gritty innings to win his third straight start, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-1 victory over the San Diego Padres Thursday night.

The 22-year-old left-hander stranded a runner in scoring position in three consecutive innings, but his critical moment came in the fifth after his first two batters reached base. He fell behind David Eckstein 1-0, was visited by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt then retired Eckstein on a flyball before striking out Adrian Gonzalez for the second time.

Kershaw then threw a 1-2 pitch to Yorvit Torrealba, whose checked swing was upheld on appeal by first base Mike Muchlinski. Honeycutt, manager Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer gave Muchlinski considerable grief from across the field. Kershaw also showed his frustration over the call after taking several steps toward the dugout, but he threw a called third strike past Torrealba.

Torre was impressed by the way Kershaw was able to maintain his focus with Torrealba.

"He doesn't get flustered," Torre said. "I mean, he gets a little irritated with himself sometimes -- like when he threw (pitcher Kevin Correia) a hanging curve ball on 0-2 and gave up a hit. But anything else that happens around him, he really holds it together. He's got a pretty good way about him. I don't want to say mechanical, but he's all business out there. It's like going to the office for him."

Kershaw was a little harder on himself.

"I got too emotional there, and I probably showed too much emotion," Kershaw said. "It was unfortunate. I don't like to show anybody up or anything like that, so I kind of regret what I did. But it's over now. I was a little bit mad at myself for doing that, but I'm glad I was able to come back and get the strikeout."

Kershaw (4-2) allowed a run and seven hits, struck out seven and walked two. He has given up no more than two runs in seven of his last eight starts.

"He's maturing," Padres manager Bud Black said. "You don't see him rattled now. Experience has been a great teacher for him. His pitches are in and around the zone a little more consistently, and he has good stuff. It's not surprising. The guy's got a lot of talent, and it's starting to show."

Ronald Belisario struck out both batters he faced and Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless ninth for his eighth save in 10 attempts.

Correia (4-4) lost his third straight start, giving up four runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out four.

Kershaw, who won a 4-1 decision against Correia last Saturday at Petco Park, became the first Dodgers pitcher to beat the same team twice in a span of seven days or less since Brad Penny did it against Colorado on April 26 and May 2, 2008.

"I've faced him a handful of times now, at least three that I can remember, and you just know going in that he's a tough guy to score runs off of. So you know you've got to bring your best game out there and not make mistakes," Correia said.

Matt Kemp led off the Dodgers' three-run sixth with a broken-bat single and took second on Correia's errant pickoff throw. James Loney's single put runners at the corners, and Kemp scored on Garret Anderson's sacrifice fly. Blake DeWitt was intentionally walked, and Jamey Carroll singled home Loney before DeWitt scored on a wild pitch to Kershaw.

"Carroll's killed me in my last two starts, so I'm not a big fan of his," Correia said. "Every time he's gone up there, he's done what he needed to do."

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the in the second on Carroll's sacrifice fly. The Padres tied it in the third when Will Venable bounced a single up the middle through a drawn-in infield to drive in Everth Cabrera.

Russell Martin, who came in 2 for 17 against Correia, was hitless in two at-bats against him and walked his next time up. But he led off the second against Adam Russell with a double that extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games.

Manny Ramirez was out of the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting lineup on Thursday night for the second straight game because of sore little toe on his left foot. The injury occurred while the slugging left fielder was swinging his leg back and forth in the trainer's room, trying to get loose before Wednesday night's 10-5 loss to San Diego, and accidentally made contact with a table.

Game notes
Gonzalez, who had a career-high six RBIs in Wednesday's 10-5 win over the Dodgers, was 1 for 3 against Kershaw and is 3 for 22 lifetime against him. ... Martin was in the leadoff spot for the 12th straight game. During that stretch, he is 13 for 44 with four walks, six RBIs and nine runs scored.