LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw pitched three-hit ball over seven innings, Matt Kemp homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 on Saturday night to keep Chris Volstad winless in his last 21 starts.
Kershaw (9-6) helped the Dodgers remain a half-game behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, coming off a five-hit shutout against the Giants last Sunday, struck out seven and allowed his only run on a fourth-inning double by Alfonso Soriano while lowering his ERA to 2.88.
Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect eighth and Kenley Jansen did likewise in the ninth for his 21st save.
Volstad (0-8) yielded two runs and six hits through seven innings before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. The right-hander is 0-13 with eight no-decisions and a 5.49 ERA since beating Houston 5-4 on July 10 last season with the Marlins, who traded him to the Cubs in January for Carlos Zambrano.
Volstad was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday, a day after starters Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm were dealt away before the non-waiver trade deadline. This is Volstad’s third stint with the big club this season, including a 5-1 loss to the Dodgers on May 5 at Wrigley Field.
Soriano’s run-scoring double ended an RBI drought of five games and 23 at-bats since his two-run triple against St. Louis’ Joe Kelly on July 28 at Chicago.
The Dodgers responded in the bottom of the fourth with Kemp’s 16th homer, a towering drive that deflected off center fielder Joe Mather’s glove as he attempted a leaping grab in right-center. Kemp is hitting .336 with 13 RBIs in 20 games since coming off the disabled list.
The Dodgers added a run in the ninth when Shane Victorino led off with a double and scored on a two-out error by shortstop Starlin Castro, who couldn’t handle Hanley Ramirez’s hard-hit grounder.
Kershaw walked No. 8 hitter Luis Valbuena his first two times up, and Volstad advanced the runner both times with sacrifice bunts. But Castro grounded out to third to end the third-inning threat, then took a called third strike to end the fourth. The Cubs’ leadoff hitter is 0 for 13 against Kershaw.
NOTES: Cubs 2B Darwin Barney eclipsed Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg’s franchise record for consecutive errorless games in one season at that position with his 91st in a row. The NL single-season record is 113, by David Eckstein with San Diego in 2010. … This was the seventh time in Volstad’s 10 starts this season that the Cubs scored fewer than two runs while he was in the game. … Kemp’s homer was his fourth in a span of 33 games and 127 at-bats. … Soriano needs 11 RBIs to reach 1,000 in his big league career. … The Dodgers optioned RHP Stephen Fife to Triple-A Albuquerque to clear a roster spot for RHP Joe Blanton, who met his teammates for the first time a day after the Dodgers acquired him from Philadelphia. “I was fortunate enough to get traded over there from Oakland in 2008 and won a World Series. Hopefully, history will repeat itself for me,” Blanton said. “This is a great place to pitch. Being in California, you get that cool air at night. The ball doesn’t travel as well as it does in Philly.” Blanton will make his Dodgers debut in Sunday’s series finale against Justin Germano, who was recalled from Iowa along with Volstad. … Kershaw has pitched at least five innings and allowed no more than two earned runs in 91 of his 139 career starts. He is 51-11 with 29 no-decisions in those games. Last season, he was 21-0 in 24 such starts.