LOS ANGELES -- One way or another, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was destined for a relatively easy night on Friday against the Colorado Rockies.
Considering his final regular-season start would segue into his first start of the postseason next week, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was going to make sure his All-Star left-hander didn't exert too much energy.
But with the struggling Rockies in town and the Los Angeles offense revved up to back its Cy Young Award candidate, it got a whole lot easier than anyone imagined in an 11-0 Dodgers win.
The Dodgers backed him by spraying the ball all over the park -- and sometimes out of it -- and the Rockies offered little resistance by managing just four hits against him.
Add it all up and Kershaw barely broke a sweat in six scoreless innings before exiting in the top of the seventh -- but not before Juan Uribe pushed him onto the field for a curtain call while the home crowd gave him a standing ovation.
"Anytime you can get recognized like that it's pretty special. The fans appreciate you do and that's always nice," Kershaw said. "I didn't really know what was going on, but by the time I figured out what was going on Uribe pushed me up the stairs."
And now he turns his attention to the postseason.
"I'm going to enjoy this one tonight, but starting tomorrow it's all about the playoffs," Kershaw said. "I'm just looking forward to figuring out where we're going to go and looking forward to getting prepared for it."
Kershaw's to-do list was clear and concise: Get through his final start healthy with an eye on Game 1 of the National League Division series next week.
And if he could check off a couple of key boxes while closing out another spectacular season, all the better.
Like pitching well enough to maintain his sub 2.00 ERA, which leads the major leagues, and become the first pitcher since Greg Maddux to lead baseball in ERA three consecutive seasons.
Kershaw finishes the season with a 1.83 ERA.
And by keeping his ERA below 2.00, he becomes only the third pitcher since 2000 to do it three times, joining Roger Clemens in 2005 and Pedro Martinez in 2000.
Kershaw is just the second Dodger ever to post a sub-2.00 ERA -- Sandy Koufax being the other, and he did it three times.
Meanwhile, Kershaw hoped to preserve his major league-leading 0.92 WHIP, which he also did, pick up his 16th win of the season and add to his league-leading strikeout total, which he accomplished by fanning eight Rockies to push his season total to 232.
All of which helped flesh out the resume that voters will scour when deciding the National League Cy Young Award winner, with Kershaw aiming for his second in three years. He certainly stated his case for the award, even while preparing for his Game 1 start next week.
"If we had scored some runs for him (earlier this year), he'd have won 25, 26 games this year," Mattingly said. "We didn't do anything for him offensively earlier this year or he would have won every time out."
The Rockies were impressed.
"He's just a solid pitcher. I mean, you don't win Cy Youngs or ERA titles without being good," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "He knows what he's doing. He works quick and gets outs, and that's as good as it gets."
The Dodgers did their part in support, scoring four first-inning runs against Rockies starter Colin McHugh to give Kershaw ample breathing room, then padding the lead during the course of the game.
Juan Uribe got it rolling with a booming two-run double to center field off McHugh to score Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez. A.J. Ellis and Mark Ellis followed with RBI singles as the Dodgers took a 4-0 lead.
Gonzalez added a solo home run to right in the third to make it 5-0.
The onslaught was in full effect by the fourth when Carl Crawford hammered a three-run to right field to make it 8-0.
McHugh was finished soon after, his messy night including 10 hits and eight earned runs allowed.
"I felt like I had pretty good stuff today," McHugh said. "I felt good in the bullpen and felt pretty good in the first inning, as good as I've felt in a number of outings this season. I thought I made some good pitches, but they put good swings on them and you've got to live with the results.
"The pitch to Gonzalez was a cutter in and it got a little too much of the plate. The pitch to Crawford was a fastball in and off the plate, but he got his barrel to it. So it was a big hit in a big situation. Obviously, you'd like to take those pitches back."
The Dodgers just kept on rolling, though, with A.J. Ellis greeting new Rockies pitcher Jeff Manship with a two-run homer in the fifth to make it 10-0. Mark Ellis added to the lead with an RBI single in the sixth to boost the lead to 11-0.
NOTES: Dodgers RF Andre Ethier, whose playoff roster fate rests in the improvement of his injured left ankle, is rehabbing at the club's spring training base in Arizona. Ethier took 15 swings in a simulated game and is expected to remain in Arizona through the weekend. Ethier's playoff status will be settled early next week. ... Dodgers SS Nick Punto was scratched from the starting lineup with an ingrown toenail on his right foot. Punto was replaced in the lineup by Dee Gordon. ... Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez took batting practice and hopes to assess his sprained right middle finger by getting some at-bats this weekend against the Dodgers. If not, he'll test the finger during the Rockies' instructional league games in Arizona soon. One way or another, Gonzalez hopes the finger responds well so he can avoid offseason surgery.
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