DENVER (AP) — Clayton Kershaw's hitting actually overshadowed his pitching.
Now that doesn't happen every day.
Kershaw had a career-high three hits to back his strong pitching performance and Joc Pederson lined one of Los Angeles' four homers, helping the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 11-4 on Monday night.
"In a way (hitting) is a little bit more fun, because there's not the pressure of needing to succeed," Kershaw said.
Known for that fearsome left arm, Kershaw (4-3) is not exactly known for his fearsome compact left-handed swing. He had a double and two singles, including a run-scoring liner to left as part of a six-run sixth that broke open a tight game.
He hasn't lost to the Rockies in nearly two years, spanning nine starts. Even more, he's found something in his technique, looking sharp in back-to-back starts. The last time he's felt this good in two straight appearances?
"Last September, I guess," said Kershaw, who went seven innings and allowed two runs.
Andre Ethier and Jimmy Rollins hit solo homers in the second off Kyle Kendrick (2-7), who gave up six runs — five earned — in 5 1-3 innings. He's allowed 15 homers this season, tying James Shields for most in the majors.
"He didn't have his 'A' stuff tonight like he has recently," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "But I thought he battled with what he had and got to a point in the game where he put us in pretty good position."
Nolan Arenado hits a two-run homer off Kershaw in the fourth. It was his third straight game with a homer, the longest stretch of his career.
Colorado returned home with some momentum after winning four straight away from Coors Field. What's more, the weather was clear again, too — something that hasn't happened all that often at home in recent weeks. The Rockies and Dodgers will play a doubleheader Tuesday to make up a game that was rained out May 9.
The right-handed Kendrick unraveled in the sixth. It began with Ethier's leadoff triple and didn't end until the Dodgers' sent 12 batters to the plate. They had seven hits in the inning, including Pederson's three-run shot to deep center off reliever Christian Friedrich, the first homer he's allowed in more than 38 innings. Howie Kendrick connected on a three-run homer in the eighth.
Adrian Gonzalez had four hits, including two doubles, and is hitting .441 in nine games against Colorado this season.
"We had a lot of guys swing the ball well tonight," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It's good to see."
The setting sun makes things miserable for first basemen this time of year. It bordered on dangerous, Gonzalez said.
"It almost forces the third baseman to short hop the ball," Gonzalez said. "I'm surprised they haven't put up some kind of billboard, something to block the sun. It could literally hit the first baseman in the face."
The music of country singer Toby Keith boomed from the speakers in the clubhouse after the game. Fitting, since Keith happened to be in there paying a visit to the team.
Keith wore a Denver Broncos hat early, before switching over to a Dodgers cap.
"I like Toby a lot," Kershaw said. "He's a baseball fan."
Dodgers: OF Carl Crawford (strained oblique) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Mattingly said Crawford is "getting better, but he hasn't started swinging or doing any baseball (activities). It's been over a month." ... OF Yasiel Puig (strained left hamstring) ran Monday and will take batting practice Tuesday. Mattingly said Puig may be headed out on a rehab assignment later this week.
Rockies: RHP Jordan Lyles went on the 15-day DL with a left big toe injury. He's hoping to avoid surgery. ... INF Ben Paulsen said he "feels good" a day after leaving the game in Philly with a migraine. ... OF Corey Dickerson (plantar fasciitis) worked in the outfield and ran the bases Monday. "Positive signs from Corey," Weiss said.
Dodgers: Los Angeles will start righty Juan Nicasio in Game 1 of the doubleheader Tuesday. RHP Zack Greinke (5-1, 1.48) will pitch the night game. He's 6-2 against Colorado since joining the Dodgers.
Rockies: Cut middle finger and all, lefty Jorge De La Rosa (1-2, 6.51) takes the mound in the opening game of the doubleheader. Righty David Hale (1-0, 2.70) joins the team from Triple-A Albuquerque and will pitch the second contest.