"He's not the most enjoyable guy when he's not healthy," manager Dave Roberts said.
Kershaw was activated Thursday to make his first start since July 27. He gave up one run and three hits in five innings, struck out four and didn't walk anyone while getting a no-decision in a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
"It was great to be back," he said. "To get through five was good and hopefully the leash keeps getting lengthened as I go."
The 35-year-old left-hander missed 35 games because of soreness in his left shoulder.
Now, he and the Dodgers hope the three-time Cy Young Award winner stays healthy for a potential playoff run in October.
"We want to be part of that more than anything," Kershaw said. "The division is not won yet. We still got a lot to do."
Kershaw figures to make his next start Wednesday against the the National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
"As long as I come back tomorrow and feel all right, that's encouraging to me," he said.
Max Muncy drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk to force in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. It was Daniel Bard's 36th walk in 40 innings for the Rockies.
The NL West-leading Dodgers won their fifth in a row against the division's worst team and extended their lead to 6½ games over the San Francisco Giants.
"Anytime 22 [Kershaw] is on the mound, you have a good feeling about how the game is going to turn out. It's a boost for everyone in this clubhouse," Muncy said. "Wish we could have got him a little more run support, but that's just the way it goes. He kept us in the game, and that's what he does all the time."
Pinch-hitter David Peralta walked leading off the eighth against Tommy Doyle (0-1). Pinch-hitter Jason Heyward grounded into a fielder's choice to second, erasing Peralta. Mookie Betts singled before Bard came in and walked Freddie Freeman to load the bases.
Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar made an over-the-shoulder catch of pinch-hitter Will Smith in shallow left-center field for the second out. Bard then walked Muncy before Chris Taylor flied out to end the inning.
"There's so many different ways you can win a game. That last inning for us proved it," Muncy said. "We had a bunch of guys just taking good at-bats and just trying to string some things together and not let the moment get too big."
Elehuris Montero homered off Kershaw to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead.
Montero's fourth homer of the season came with two outs in the fifth. It was the 13th homer given up by Kershaw this season.
Kershaw threw four changeups in the game, getting Elias Díaz to ground out with one to end the first.
"Three of them were OK," Kershaw said. "They just had some guys where a changeup is a good pitch."
Muncy tied the score on a solo shot that chased Rockies starter Ty Blach leading off the seventh.
Taylor followed with a single before Enrique Hernandez grounded into a double play.
Alan Trejo made a diving stop on the third base side of second and somehow got his right toe across the bag to tag out Taylor. Trejo then threw to first to get Hernández to complete the Rockies' third double play of the game. The Dodgers unsuccessfully challenged the out call at second.
First baseman Freeman committed his first error of the season in the first when a ground ball hit by Ryan McMahon just escaped under his glove.
Blach gave up one run and three hits in six innings. The left-hander struck out two and walked two.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.