The 20-year-old rookie worked seven dominant innings and Manny Ramirez homered for the fourth time in six games with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who averted a three-game sweep in a 4-1 victory over the Cardinals and 13-game winner Kyle Lohse on Thursday.
"It wasn't pretty but it got the job done," Kershaw said. "I was kind of effectively wild. They were chasing my fastball up, so I kind of used that a lot."
Ramirez, booed throughout the series before each at-bat by fans who apparently remember his 2004 World Series MVP turn in Boston's sweep of the Cardinals, is 13-for-23 with nine RBIs since joining the Dodgers. His 514th career homer was a two-run shot in the third off a first-pitch fastball from Lohse, putting the Dodgers ahead 3-0.
"I'm just learning the league," Ramirez said. "I like it here."
Ryan Ludwick's consecutive home run streak ended at five games, which tied a Cardinals record, after he went 1-for-3 with a single, two strikeouts and a walk. Ludwick has 29 homers on the season and is batting .475 (19-for-40) during a 10-game hitting streak.
Kershaw, the seventh overall pick of the 2006 draft, allowed only three singles while matching his season best with seven strikeouts and working around four walks. The seven-inning stint was the deepest he's gone by a full inning in 12 career starts and the walks all came against the heart of the Cardinals order with Albert Pujols getting two and Ludwick and Troy Glaus one apiece.
"He's a young guy who's going to get better and better," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We didn't do anything with their guy."
Kershaw's exuberance got the best of him only once when he tried to make a difficult play on Aaron Miles' infield hit in the fifth, a slow roller down the third base line that he gloved while sliding. But he made no apology for a play that was going to be a hit in any case if it stayed fair.
"For me, being most effective I need to be aggressive," Kershaw said. "I'm never going to pull back on anything."
In his past three outings Kershaw has been stellar, giving up one run and 11 hits in 19 innings. Cesar Izturis, who was 6-for-12 in the series, ended the left-hander's 17-inning scoreless streak with an RBI single in the fifth.
Hong-Chih Kuo tossed a perfect eighth and Jonathan Broxton, shaky in his first appearance in six days, worked around a hit and a walk in the ninth for his sixth save in six chances since Takashi Saito went on the 15-day disabled list last month. Broxton struck out pinch-hitters Rick Ankiel and Skip Schumaker with runners on second and third to end it.
"You're going to have those days when you feel a little rusty and a little off," Broxton said. "Those are the days you've got to work the hardest to get outs any way you can."
Lohse (13-4) allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings, including his fifth homer in three starts, missing a chance to match his career high for victories set in 2003. He finished strong, retiring his last 10 batters after Juan Pierre's RBI triple in the fourth put the Dodgers ahead 4-0.
Loney's two-out RBI single in the first and Ramirez's homer were the only pitches Lohse regretted.
"Those are the ones I threw right down the middle," Lohse said. "Some guys got base hits on not-so-good pitches, but if you could take two back, those were two bad mistakes in key situations."
Cardinals reliever Jason Isringhausen, removed from the closer's role for a second time on Tuesday, worked a scoreless eighth and ninth and was impressive. The only hit he allowed was erased on Ramirez's double-play ball, and he struck out the side against the Dodgers' 6-7-8 hitters in the ninth.
Isringhausen declined to talk to reporters.
Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright will make his first rehab start from a finger injury on Friday for Triple-A Memphis and could come back as the closer. His first outing was moved up one day and the team plans on shorter and more frequent appearances until he's ready. ... Saito played catch in Los Angeles on Thursday for the first time since going on the DL with a sprained elbow ligament on July 18. ... Actor Billy Bob Thornton, a friend of La Russa, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Ankiel missed his 11th straight start with an abdominal strain but could return on Friday.