LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw struck out seven in an abbreviated start to become the first pitcher in 13 years to reach 300 strikeouts, and the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres 6-3 Sunday to close the regular season on a five-game winning streak.
Kershaw finished with 301 strikeouts and joined former Arizona teammates Randy Johnson (2000-02) and Curt Schilling (2002) as the only pitchers since 2000 to reach 300 strikeouts in a season. Kershaw became the second to do so in Dodgers history; his mentor Sandy Koufax accomplished the feat three times in the mid-1960s.
Kershaw allowed two hits and no walks on 60 pitches over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. The left-hander completed his final tune-up before the Dodgers open the NL Division Series against the New York Mets at home Friday. He is likely to start Game 1 against Jacob deGrom and the NL East champions, although the Dodgers have yet to announce their rotation.
Kershaw didn’t waste any time going after the mark. He struck out Melvin Upton Jr. to start the game, one of two strikeouts he notched in each of the first three innings. He reached 300 on a swinging strikeout of Upton to end the third, earning a standing ovation.
He left the game with two outs in the fourth, tipping his cap to the crowd of 42,863 that rose to its feet again. Teammate Jimmy Rollins, serving as manager for the day while wearing a jersey with the name of retired manager Tom Lasorda, came out to the mound to remove Kershaw, who was smiling during their brief chat.
Joc Pederson hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. Corey Seager added a solo shot on the first pitch by Jon Edwards leading off the sixth and then with two outs, pinch-hitter Chris Heisey had a two-run homer for a 5-0 lead.
Travis Jankowski drew the Padres to 5-3 with a three-run homer off reliever Luis Avilan in the seventh after Juan Nicasio gave up consecutive one-out singles to Austin Hedges and Alexi Amarista.
The Dodgers concluded with a 55-26 home record, tying the 1980 team (55-27) for the most home wins since the franchise moved west in 1958. They earned their first sweep of San Diego since Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2013, at home.
Joel Peralta (3-1) won with one inning of relief, and Chris Hatcher pitched the ninth for his fourth save in six chances. Closer Kenley Jansen served as pitching coach for the day.
San Diego’s Frank Garces (0-1) gave up two runs and two hits in two innings of his first major league start. The left-hander, who pitched in 40 games this season, struck out two and walked one as the Padres used their finale to check out their relievers for next season.
The Dodgers (92-70) surpassed 90 wins for the third consecutive season, having gone 94-68 a year ago. Their won their third straight NL West title to make the postseason for the third straight year, a first for the storied franchise.
The Dodgers led the majors in attendance for the third straight year, drawing 3,764,815. They ended the regular season with the third-highest total in club history, trailing only last season (3,782,337) and 2007 (3,857,036). Their average attendance of 46,479 also topped the majors.
Padres: OF Justin Upton didn’t play after straining his neck last Wednesday while running headfirst into a padded wall in left field. OF Wil Myers and OF Matt Kemp also sat out.
Dodgers: OF Yasiel Puig got treatment on his right hamstring a day after coming off the DL. He entered as a defensive replacement in the fourth inning Sunday and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts after starting and getting a hit Saturday.
Padres: They completed the franchise’s fifth consecutive losing season.
Dodgers: They open the NLDS against the New York Mets at home Friday.