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By Jon Weisman
Clayton Kershaw returned to the scene of the biggest crime of his 2014 season and .. walked the first batter he faced on four pitches.
In the third inning, with one out, he pitched with the bases loaded for the first time all year.
In the fourth, he allowed a double and a single (with an error) to the first two batters he faced, leading to the first unearned run he’s allowed in the regular season since September 13.
In the fifth, the leadoff hitter hit a triple, the first triple off Kershaw since the May 17 disaster start.
But in the end, Kershaw was Kershaw.
Retiring 12 of the final 13 hitters he faced and striking out seven of them, Kershaw carried the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory at Arizona.
His 2014 ERA is now 1.73, its lowest mark since his second start of the season. He struck out 10 batters, giving him three consecutive games with at least 10 strikeouts for the first time since June 20-July 2, 2011.
His record since May 17: 139 innings, 85 hits, 20 walks, 166 strikeouts, 1.29 ERA.
In his past 750 innings, the 26-year-old left-hander has a 1.99 ERA.
Kenley Jansen struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 100th career save.
The down note for the Dodgers, who took the lead for good on Matt Kemp’s two-run double in the third inning, was an ankle injury to Scott Van Slyke. Van Slyke, who continued to destroy Arizona starter Wade Miley with a third-inning homer, his fourth (to go with three doubles) in 11 at-bats against the lefty this year, rolled his right ankle while making the aforementioned error, on a ricochet of the ball off Yasiel Puig, and had to leave the game. He is day to day.