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LOS ANGELES (AP/CBSLA.com) —Clayton Kershaw struck out 15 to set a season career high with 251, Chase Utley hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1 on Wednesday night for a series sweep that increased their NL West lead to 6 ½ games.

The second-place Giants’ fifth straight loss left them facing their largest division deficit of the season. All three defeats to the Dodgers were by one run, and they have scored just 11 runs during their skid.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was ejected for the second straight game.

Kershaw (12-6) beat the Giants for the first time in four starts this season. He allowed one run and six hits and walked one on a career high-tying 132 pitches for his third complete game of the season.

The left-hander leads the National League in strikeouts, surpassing his career-best of 248 set in 2011. His 15 strikeouts tied a career high after having 14 against the Cubs in his previous start.

Kershaw became the first NL pitcher to strike out 250 batters in a season since Tim Lincecum of the Giants fanned 261 in 2009.

Mike Leake (9-7) gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings, struck out three and walked none. He is winless in five starts since the Giants acquired him from Cincinnati on July 30.

Kershaw’s performance gave the Dodgers’ oft-shaky bullpen a rest after it came up big in the series’ first two games, a 5-4, 14-inning win Monday and a 2-1 victory Tuesday.

Kershaw created suspense for a crowd of 41,648 that was on its feet in the ninth. With two outs, the Giants put the tying and go-ahead runs on base after Matt Duffy and Buster Posey had consecutive singles. Kershaw struck out Marlon Byrd to end the game, pumping his arms.

Utley’s homer put the Dodgers ahead for good, 2-1.

The Giants tied the game 1-all in the sixth on a single by Angel Pagan that glanced off the glove of third baseman Justin Turner and into left field with two outs, scoring Kelby Tomlinson, who walked and stole second.

Los Angeles led 1-0 on Carl Crawford’s RBI double in the second.

Bochy was ejected in the dugout after Brandon Belt struck out leading off the eighth. He claimed it was a checked swing and appealed to third base umpire Mike Winters, who tossed Bochy before the manager came onto the field to argue in person.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Giants: RHP Matt Cain (elbow nerve irritation) will pitch a couple of rehab innings Friday at Triple A-Sacramento. … INF Joe Panik (low back inflammation) will start his rehab stint Thursday at Sacramento. He’s likely to play three games there and possibly re-join the team for its series at Arizona next week.

Dodgers: INF Howie Kendrick, on the DL since Aug. 20 with a strained left hamstring, is still not ready to return.

UP NEXT

Giants: RHP Ryan Vogelsong (9-10, 4.19 ERA) starts the opener of a four-game series at Colorado, where he is 3-3 with a 7.14 ERA in six career starts. He’s made it through the sixth inning just once in his last seven starts.

Dodgers: RHP Mat Latos (4-9, 4.76) starts the opener of a four-game series at San Diego. He is 0-2 in four career starts against the Padres with a 2.08 ERA while holding batters to a .189 average.

Fellow Dodgers Brett Anderson and Kike Hernandez weighed in on Kershaw’s performance on Twitter, after the game.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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