Clayton Kershaw was off form, wasn’t himself, wasn’t the guy some say is the best pitcher on planet Earth. And then, after he bent but didn’t give, he turned back into Clayton Kershaw.
And that was that for the Marlins.
Despite several chances early to put a dent into the Dodgers’ ace, the Marlins came up empty in a 6-0 loss as first-place Los Angeles finished off the series by winning its third in a row.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the game for a reason,” said Marlins rookie Christian Yelich, who struck out three times. “I found that out [Thursday] pretty quick.”
With Kershaw scuffling to throw strikes early, the Marlins had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings and yet never managed to push a run across.
“Maybe the first three innings, he didn’t really have his fastball command,” Yelich said.
“He was all over the place with it. He was getting frustrated with himself, and we could kind of see it. And then he found it there pretty quick, and he became locked in.’’
Kershaw then made them pay by driving in the game’s first run with a two-out, bases-loaded single in the fourth.
The Dodgers scored all five of their runs off Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez with two outs.
Kershaw is now 13-7 and lowered his major league-leading ERA to 1.72. But Kershaw didn’t display his usual sharpness, at least early on. He gave up a leadoff walk to Yelich in the first, a leadoff walk to Ed Lucas in the second, and a two-out double to Giancarlo Stanton in the third.
But the Marlins went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position over the first three innings and, after that, Kershaw settled down.
He gave up only three hits over his remaining five innings.
For the third day in a row, it was the fourth inning that did in the Marlins, an indication that the Dodgers gained the upper hand the second time through the order.
The Dodgers scored four runs in the fourth in Tuesday’s 6-4 victory, three runs in the fourth in Wednesday’s 4-1 win and three runs in the fourth Thursday to put away the Marlins.
“That’s definitely the sign of a good team, being able to make adjustments to our pitching, and for us to not be able to make adjustments,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.
Although the Marlins held rookie star Yasiel Puig to 2-for-14 hitting in the series, he made the most of his two hits, belting the deciding home run Tuesday and crushing a double off the top of the wall in center to open Thursday’s fourth inning — as far as a ball can be hit at Marlins Park without it being a home run.
Puig also drove in a run in the seventh with a sacrifice fly.
Alvarez retired the next two batters after Puig’s double but couldn’t close out the inning. He hit Skip Schumaker with a pitch, walked Juan Uribe and gave up an RBI single to Kershaw on a 1-0 pitch. Carl Crawford scorched a two-run double to right on Alvarez’s very next pitch, and the Marlins pitcher gave up two more runs in the fifth.
A name from math
Finally. A big-league baseball player a mathematician could embrace.
Arquimedes Euclides Caminero, the Marlins’ 26-year-old rookie reliever, is named for a couple of ancient Greek mathematicians: Archimedes and Euclid.
“My father saw the names in an algebra book and liked them,” said Caminero, who has put up some good numbers so far with the Marlins after being called up last week from the minors.
Caminero, a native of the Dominican Republic, has made three relief appearances, allowing only two hits while striking out three.
Caminero said friends and family back in the Dominican call him “Kiko,” and his baseball teammates often shorten his last name and call him “Cami.” But he prefers Arquimedes, even though it takes a bit of practice to pronounce.
“I like my name,” he said.
• Marlins reliever Chad Qualls said he was feeling better Thursday after a stiff lower back left him unavailable for two games during the Dodgers series.
• Third baseman Placido Polanco made an appearance at Marlins Park on Thursday after spending the previous two days resting at home. Polanco is on the seven-day concussion list after being struck in the helmet by a pitch.
• Friday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (3-8, 4.66 ERA) vs. Colorado Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin (11-7, 3.24), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Saturday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (9-5, 2.41) vs. Colorado Rockies RHP Jeff Manship (0-3, 7.80), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Scouting report: The Marlins took three out of four from the Rockies at Coors Field in July. Koehler won the first game of that series by holding Colorado to a run on eight hits over seven innings.