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Thursday, April 5, 2012
Clayton Kershaw leaves start early

By Tony Jackson
ESPNLosAngeles.com

SAN DIEGO -- Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw lasted just three innings into his Opening Day start Thursday before leaving the game because of a stomach flu.

Before succumbing, Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, held the Padres scoreless on two hits and even delivered the Dodgers' first hit of the season -- a two-out, opposite-field single up the left-field line in the top of the third inning. He also took second when Padres left fielder Jesus Guzman bobbled the ball and was charged with an error.

Vin Scully, the Dodgers' Hall of Fame broadcaster, reported on the air during the first inning that manager Don Mattingly considered scratching Kershaw from the lineup just before game time because of the illness, but that Kershaw talked Mattingly out of it. It became clear that Kershaw was done as the Dodgers were staging a lengthy rally in the top of the fourth, as reliever Josh Lindblom warmed up quickly in the bullpen.

As Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis batted with the bases loaded and two outs -- he eventually would walk, forcing in the second run of the inning -- Adam Kennedy came out on deck to pinch hit, a clear sign Kershaw was finished.

Although Kershaw left with the Dodgers leading 2-0, he didn't qualify for the win because he hadn't pitched the requisite five innings.