LOS ANGELES -- If you're going to sit on the sidelines as the trade deadline passes, it's not a bad idea to have Clayton Kershaw on the mound later that evening.
The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't get involved during a busy day of trading around baseball Thursday -- with a Cy Young winner and another ace changing teams -- but Kershaw didn't let Dodgers fans soak in the disappointment long. He pitched his third complete game in his past four starts, helping the Dodgers to a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.
It was the Dodgers' sixth straight win and put them 3½ games up on the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
How it happened: Kershaw had the fifth-longest scoreless innings streak (41) since 1961 earlier this season. Since then, he has been, somehow, just as good, which is practically impossible. He has made the bullpen largely irrelevant, generally a good thing. He struck out nine and managed to work his way around eight Atlanta hits. Hitters look like they're so afraid of getting into two-strike counts -- and facing one of Kershaw's two devastating breaking balls -- that they're looking to make contact early. Kershaw has gotten to the point in his career that he just uses that aggression against teams. He managed nine innings with only 111 pitches.
Hits: Slugging has been an issue for the Dodgers at times, which they didn't expect. One of their hitters looks as if he's beginning to punish the ball, however. Yasiel Puig homered and doubled and has eight extra-base hits in his past six games. He's also batting .462 in those games. If he's about to have the kind of month he had in May, the Dodgers could wrap up this division way earlier than it appeared they might.
Misses: Like many of the Dodgers' middle-of-the-order bats, Hanley Ramirez hasn't shown the same power this year as he has in previous seasons. His most recent home run came on June 17. The Dodgers feel as though he will produce as long as he stays healthy, and he had a good road trip, but Ramirez is 0-for-11 since the Dodgers returned home. He struck out twice against the Braves' Julio Teheran, who seemed to pound him inside effectively with fastballs. At one point, Ramirez seemed to glare out at the mound. Many pitchers seem to be approaching Ramirez this way lately.
Stat of the game: Kershaw is on one of the greatest runs a Dodgers pitcher has ever had. In his past 11 starts, he is 10-0 with a 0.84 ERA. According to Elias, only one other Dodgers pitcher has gone 9-0 or 10-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA over 10 starts -- Don Sutton in 1976.