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Clayton Kershaw finishes regular season with 301 strikeouts

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers stuck to their plan and limited Clayton Kershaw to 60 pitches in his final playoff tuneup Sunday, but Kershaw still reached the 300-strikeout mark.

In fact, he did it with room to spare -- and became the only Dodger other than Sandy Koufax to strike out 300 or more batters in a season. Koufax did it three times (1963, 1965 and 1966).

Needing six strikeouts on Sunday to become the first major league pitcher since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002 to reach the 300 mark, Kershaw struck out seven in 3 2/3 innings against the San Diego Padres. Melvin Upton Jr. was his 300th strikeout victim and Yangervis Solarte No. 301.

The Dodgers went on to beat the Padres 6-3. Kershaw allowed two hits and no walks on 60 pitches.

Kershaw, the Dodgers' likely Game 1 starter in their Division Series against the New York Mets, also locked up the major league innings title. He finished with 232 2/3, just ahead of the Houston Astros' Dallas Keuchel. Kershaw has won the Cy Young Award in three of the past four seasons, but he is in a tight race with teammate Zack Greinke and the Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta this season.

He also finished with an ERA of 2.13. He also is the fourth different pitcher to record at least 300 strikeouts in a season with fewer than 250 innings pitched. Johnson did it three times, Pedro Martinez twice and Nolan Ryan once.

Kershaw, often demonstrably unhappy when manager Don Mattingly takes the ball from him, smiled as veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins, acting as manager for the day, went to get the ball from him in the fourth inning. He tipped his cap to the crowd of 42,863.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.