PHOENIX – Clayton Kershaw pitched seven dominant innings and the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West for the ninth time in 10 seasons, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0 on Tuesday night.
Freddie Freeman, Max Muncie and Joey Gallo homered as the Dodgers improved their record in the majors to 98-43. They lead second-place San Diego by 20 1/2 games.
Manager Dave Roberts’ team will have plenty of time to prepare for a 10th straight year in the postseason. The Dodgers’ first playoff game is almost a month away, on October 11.
The only season the Dodgers didn’t win a division in their recent streak was last year, when they won 106 times but still finished one game behind San Francisco. Los Angeles then swept the Giants in the NL Division Series before losing to eventual champion Atlanta in the NLCS.
A crowd of 21,143, mostly dressed in Dodger blue, watched the clinch. It is the Dodgers’ 20th Western crown since the major leagues were divided into divisions in 1969.
Kershaw (8-3) was sharp throughout, allowing just two singles and one walk while striking out five. He threw just 82 pitches, 55 for strikes. He lowered his season ERA to 2.44.
Caleb Ferguson and Craig Kimbrel finished with a combined three-hit shutout.
Gallo’s home run, his 17th, cleared the center field wall to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the second. The homer was measured at 438 feet. Muncy led off the inning with a single by Merrill Kelly — literally — as the ball bounced off the pitcher to the vacated left side of the infield.
Freeman led off the third inning with his 20th homer, a 442-foot drive to right-center into the bullpen.
Muncie’s homer, also his 20th, came against Taylor Widener in the seventh.
Kelly (12-6) lasted five innings, losing for the first time in 14 starts. He had five hits, walked five and struck out eight. He made 96 shots — 30 in the long second innings and another 29 in the third.
It was the Dodgers’ second straight shutout in Arizona. Tyler Anderson and two relievers shut out the Diamondbacks 6-0 on Monday.
GOT THEIR NUMBER
After Tuesday’s win, the Dodgers are 27-5 against Arizona over the past two seasons.
Mookie Betts, returning to his usual spot in right field, made a sliding catch in the corner after a long run to get an extra-base hit from Jake McCarthy in the seventh inning. Betts started at second base on Monday.
In the eighth, McCarthy returned the favor, catching Betts on a line drive in foul territory.
Diamondbacks 1B Christian Walker entered Tuesday hitting .318 against Kershaw with four home runs in 22 at-bats, but he struck out twice and struck out against the All-Star left-hander.
BACK IN TIME
The Dodgers activated RHP Tommy Kahnle from the 60-day injured list and designated RHP Heath Hembree for assignment on Tuesday.
Kahnle, 33, missed three months with forearm inflammation. He has played in just four games for the Dodgers this season, but has postseason experience with the New York Yankees in 2017 and 2019.
“To get a guy back that’s highly leveraged, big-game, that’s huge,” Roberts said. “The time is good. He hasn’t played much this season so to have a few weeks for him to acclimatise again is good.”
Roberts said 2B Gavin Lux (back), who has been out since Sept. 1, will have a simulated game Wednesday. Roberts said he is close to returning.
RHP Michael Grove (4.82) makes his third start of the season for the Dodgers against Arizona RHP Zach Davis (2-4, 4.09) on Wednesday in the finale of a three-game series at Chase Field.
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