It was the only fight he lost all day.
"I was waffling a little bit, to be honest with you," Mattingly said of taking Kershaw out before the ninth after 111 pitches. "I just felt like he did his job."
Better than anyone else against the Giants, too.
Kershaw (11-4) allowed three hits in eight innings to help the Dodgers snap a four-game losing streak and six overall to the Giants. He struck out 12 to improve his major league lead to 167 this season.
The hard-throwing lefty lowered his ERA against San Francisco to 1.41, the lowest of any pitcher against the defending World Series champions. He also beat Lincecum on opening day this season.
"We were struggling. We needed a win," he said. "The wins count the same no matter who they're against."
Dioner Navarro's home run off Lincecum (8-8) landed in McCovey Cove and was the only pop Los Angeles showed on a day hitting coach Jeff Pentland was fired. Dave Hansen was promoted on an interim basis for the rest of the season.
Javy Guerra pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
Lincecum allowed five hits in seven-plus innings in another solid start with little run support. He struck out seven and walked four.
San Francisco's shaggy-haired righty seemed in control on a day he had to be at his dominating best.
Giants All-Star third baseman Pablo Sandoval didn't start because of tightness in his right quadriceps and right fielder Nate Scheirholtz was given the day off. The retooled lineup didn't give Lincecum any room for error.
All it took was one pitch to wash away an otherwise solid start.
Navarro became the 24th opposing player and first this season to hit a home run into McCovey Cove, taking a 1-0 fastball off Lincecum over the right-field wall in the seventh. It was the fourth time Lincecum gave up a splash shot in his career, and the eighth time this season he walked off the mound with his team held scoreless.
"I flinched first," Lincecum said.
Navarro knew the ball was gone the second he hit it, and he found out watching the video replay in the clubhouse that it found the water -- something he's always wanted to do.
"I've been trying to reach that was since day one," Navarro said. "I never could. Not even in batting practice."
That was all the support Los Angeles' ace needed.
The Dodgers committed three errors with some sloppy defense, getting bailed out by Kershaw each time. Navarro twice threw into center field trying to throw out a runner at second only to have Kershaw strand them at third in the first two innings.
Second baseman Jamey Carroll couldn't corral a hard-hit ball by Brandon Belt in the fourth, and the Giants rookie hustled into second. Then Kershaw got Emmanuel Burriss to ground out and end the inning, and San Francisco never got closer.
The Giants optioned C Hector Sanchez to Triple-A Fresno to make room for 2B Jeff Keppinger, who they acquired in a trade with Houston on Tuesday. Keppinger's flight was delayed and he arrived late. He flied out to left in the seventh and stayed in to play second. ... Injured Giants C Buster Posey made an appearance in the clubhouse before the game. He was still pushing himself around in a makeshift scooter that supports his reconstructed left ankle. ... The game was the first time this season the Dodgers had three errors. The last came May 25, 2010, in a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Kershaw was the starting pitcher that day.