GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw put in a good day's work on his 24th birthday.
The NL Cy Young Award winner pitched into the sixth inning and dropped down two nice sacrifice bunts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 4-3 loss Monday to Cleveland.Indians center fielder Michael Brantley left after one inning with what manager Manny Acta said was a "tight right hamstring."Kershaw allowed one run -- his first this spring -- and three singles over 5 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out four. The left-hander got eight outs on grounders and has a 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 innings over three starts this spring."For the first two or three innings, I was pretty erratic, missing with too many fastballs," Kershaw said. "But I battled OK."Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez matched the NL's best, pitching one-hit ball for four innings in his first Cactus League start. The right-hander has yet to give up a run in 11 innings over four outings."Gomez set the tone," Acta said. "Against a guy like Kershaw, you have to do that."Carlos Santana hit the first pitch from Dodgers reliever Javy Guerra for his second homer and a 2-0 lead. Lonnie Chisenhall added a two-run single in the eighth for Cleveland.Kershaw was critical of his own performance."Physically, I feel good," said Kershaw, who went 21-5 and led the NL with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts last year. "I just need to get better fastball command. I had a good changeup. My curveball was good, but my slider was flat."In a perfect world, you throw all four pitches fine. Until then, there is stuff to work on."In 2009 against Colorado, Kershaw celebrated his 21st birthday by hitting a home run."Not today," he said. "I had to bunt, dad-gum it."I'm getting old. Nah, not really. I'm still the youngest guy on the staff, experience-wise."Jose Lopez had an RBI single off Kershaw in the first, but also made one of Cleveland's three errors by booting an easy grounder at third base."We didn't play very good defense," Acta said.Gomez, competing with left-hander David Huff and right-handers Kevin Slowey and Zach McAllister for the No. 5 rotation spot, might be able to earn a roster spot even if it is not as a starter."He has thrown the ball probably the best of anybody in camp," Acta said. "His secondary pitches are better. He used to rely only on a two-seam fastball. His slider has been swing and miss."Acta has two openings in the bullpen, with a need for a long man. Gomez could fill that role and be used as an occasional starter."We're taking the best 25 players to start the season. It is not about being put into a role," Acta said.
Acta said Brantley left as a precaution, and Cleveland's only day off of the spring Tuesday comes at a good time. ... 2B Justin Sellers went 3 for 4 with an RBI for the Dodgers. ... Indians RHP Derek Lowe gave up three runs over five innings in a 6-5 "B" game win over the Chicago Cubs. 1B Matt LaPorta and SS Cristian Guzman hit homers for Cleveland. McAllister allowed one earned run over four innings. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo had a triple and two RBIs. ... Indians LHP Rafael Perez and RHP Robinson Tejeda each worked one inning in a minor league game. Perez (sore shoulder) gave up one hit and one run. Tejeda (sore calf) yielded two hits and one run.