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Kershaw strikes out nine Rockies in five innings

DENVER -- With Clayton Kershaw on the mound and a Spring Training batting order to support him, the Dodgers beat the Rockies on Sunday, 6-1, in a game called after 5 1/2 innings and a 95-minute rain delay.

Manager Don Mattingly, already missing three regulars who are on the disabled list (Carl Crawford, Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis), was also without Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon because of minor hip injuries, so the highest batting average in the lineup when the game began was Kershaw's .267.

The offensive combination that worked for Mattingly had Matt Kemp driving in a pair of runs with his second triple in as many games, a solo home run from Hanley Ramirez and the first Major League hits by Jamie Romak (a two-run double) and Miguel Rojas (an RBI single), both making their first starts. The Dodgers drew four walks, all of them scoring, and won the rubber match of the three-game series.

"I thought our energy was good all three days," said Mattingly, who made critical comments of his club before it flew to Denver. "The main thing is to keep our focus and we'll be fine."

Kemp heads into a four-game set in Cincinnati having gone 5-for-9 with three walks over the weekend in Denver.

"It just feels good to contribute," he said. "I'm having good at-bats, seeing the ball well. I hope it carries over to Cincinnati. Every series is important at this point, the way the Giants are playing."

Meanwhile, Kershaw struck out nine in only five innings without issuing a walk, the blemish being a solo home run by Troy Tulowitzki. Officially, it goes down as his first complete game of the year.

Kershaw (5-2) has struck out nine batters five times this year, including his last four starts, and he's done it four times without a walk. He's 6-1 in his last nine starts against Colorado and 4-1 on the road this season.

"It's no secret that I haven't pitched well here in the past [5.24 ERA at Coors Field coming in], and I wanted to establish the fastball, especially with a two-run lead early. Make them beat you," said Kershaw, who not only wasn't bothered by the elements, but said the steady rain probably helped him.

"I talked to Jamey Wright [who pitched in Colorado for six years] and he said the rain sometimes helps, the moisture on the ball helps with the break."

Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa was responsible for an agonizingly slow, 35-pitch first inning that included a pair of walks, a steal of third base by Chone Figgins (starting for Gordon at second base) that drew an unsuccessful challenge by Rockies manager Walt Weiss and Kemp's triple, which gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

"Jorge walked the first two, had a 35-pitch first, but threw really well after that," said Weiss. "Then two walks on the tail end of the outing scored also. He threw the ball really well, but again, it's always tough when you're playing from behind against a guy like Kershaw."

Tulowitzki put the Rockies on the board by jumping on Kershaw's first-pitch fastball for his 17th home run leading off the bottom of the fourth inning.

The Dodgers scored four in the sixth. Ramirez blasted a one-out home run beyond the seats in left field, his 10th homer, estimated at 461 feet.

"Hopefully it's something that gets him going," Mattingly said of Ramirez's home run. "He's been good in the two-hole."

Walks to Adrian Gonzalez and Kemp brought on Matt Belisle, who allowed the hits to Romak (starting for right fielder Puig) and Rojas (starting at third base).

"Honestly, for me this is better than the callup," said Romak. "Now I'm here and doing it."

"I'm giving the ball to my grandmother and grandfather, like a reward for them because they worked their whole life for me," said Rojas.

Although the game was interrupted after the top of the sixth, the runs and stats count because the Dodgers took a lead into that inning.

The weather provided some anxious moments for Kemp and fellow Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke, who headed for the hills when a lightning strike hit too close to Coors Field for comfort. Kemp watched Van Slyke actually run toward the infield, only to be told by umpires to return as play would continue, even though fans in the upper deck were told to take cover.

"That's not safe," said Van Slyke. "It's irresponsible in my book. We've got metal cleats and a metal button on top of the hat. It just takes one strike."

Kemp agreed.

"Don't play with lightning," said Kemp. "I'm from Oklahoma. You see lightning, you go inside. That was pretty close, right on top of us. I'm surprised they didn't tell us to go inside."

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