PHILADELPHIA — While the Dodgers continue to win games at a rate no team has managed since World War II, Clayton Kershaw, the team's ace pitcher, is performing at a level unmatched by any starting pitcher since just after World War I.
By holding the Philadelphia Phillies scoreless through eight innings of a 5-0 victory Saturday, the Dodgers' 10th win in a row, the left-hander lowered his career earned-run average to 2.63, the lowest mark by a major league starter with at least 1,000 innings since 1920.
He isn't dwelling on the past, though. Instead Kershaw is looking ahead, to October, when he hopes to be making another kind of history in the playoffs.
"We're just trying to win games. All this other stuff isn't a big deal," he said. "Until we get to the playoffs, we've just got to win games. That other stuff is great. But it's just not that important honestly."
What is important — and also somewhat historic — is the way the Dodgers are pitching. Saturday's shutout was the team's second in as many games, giving them a baseball-best 16 for the season while extending the staff's scoreless streak to 27 innings.
And Kershaw, who had his seventh scoreless start of the season, once again made it look easy, retiring the first 12 batters he faced and taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning for the second time in a week. Catcher A.J. Ellis had predicted it was only a matter of time before the left-hander finished off a no-hitter.
Kershaw (12-7) said he would rather concentrate on victories.
"You can't even think about that as a pitcher," said Kershaw, who has given up more than two runs in a start once in the last two months. "You've got to make sure you get a win."
The Dodgers have been getting a lot of those lately, their latest extending the team's win streak to its longest in more than seven years. It was also the team's 42nd victory in 50 games, the best 50-game stretch in the major leagues since 1942.
And they needed only three batters to get Kershaw the only offense he would need, scoring on singles by Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig and a fielding error by first baseman John Mayberry Jr. on a ball hit by Adrian Gonzalez. They loaded the bases with no outs, but Andre Ethier bounced back to the pitcher for a home-to-first double play.
Kershaw drove in the second run himself, doubling home Juan Uribe in the fifth. Uribe then added some insurance with two outs in the ninth, lining a full-count pitch deep into the left-field stands with two runners on.
Kershaw, who scattered three hits and struck out eight, was in trouble only once, in the eighth, when Casper Wells' double, a walk to Mayberry and a wild pitch put the tying runs in scoring position with two out. But Kershaw struck out pinch-hitter Carlos Ruiz on a breaking pitch in the dirt to end the threat.
That also marked the end of his night, one he finished with major league-leading marks for ERA (1.80), WHIP, walks plus hits per inning, (0.85) and opponents' batting average (.182). All of which will mean more to the historians than it will to the Dodgers when Kershaw makes his next start.
"As you keep turning that page, then all the past is just past," Manager Don Mattingly said. "It's over. It's about today."