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Clayton Kershaw much improved in final Dodgers spring tuneup

Next stop for Clayton Kershaw after three scoreless innings Wednesday: Opening Day at San Diego on Monday. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw dominated in the desert. Now it is time to unleash his Cy Young stuff on the regular season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' ace made his final tuneup start a short one Wednesday, going three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He will leave Arizona with a 1.96 ERA.

He even took his regular turn in the batting order after he threw his final pitch, calling it a day, and a spring, with a groundout to shortstop.

Kershaw now will be pointed toward his sixth consecutive Opening Day start for the Dodgers as he's scheduled to take the mound Monday at San Diego.

"It's a huge honor to be a part of it obviously," Kershaw said about pitching in the first game of the season. "It's tough to balance. It is just one game to the significance of getting to start it. It's a tough balance there for sure, but I do enjoy getting to pitch it, for sure.

The left-hander's first home start of the season isn't likely to come until April 14 against the Arizona Diamondbacks or April 15 against the San Francisco Giants.

Though the outing Wednesday was not long, it still was enough time to properly distance himself from a road outing Thursday against the Indians, when he gave up seven hits and walked three over five innings, also striking out seven.

"I had a better breaking ball today, the curveball was better," he said. "Fastball command was still a little in and out, but I made some decent ones. Overall it was better than last time so that's good."

There was little doubt the 28-year-old would find his groove in time. He posted a 2.13 ERA last season in a career-high-tying 33 starts, reaching 300 strikeouts for the first time. He recorded double digits in strikeouts 13 times in those 33 starts and pitched seven innings or more 22 times.

His start Monday will put him one behind Don Sutton's franchise record of seven consecutive Opening Day starts.