SAN DIEGO -- One Triple Crown down, one to go.
Clayton Kershaw all but clinched the NL pitching Triple Crown with his 21st victory but Matt Kemp suffered a major setback in his attempt to become the majors' first Triple Crown winner in 44 seasons following the Los Angeles Dodgers' 6-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
Kershaw's dominant performance helped bolster Dodgers' claims that the left-hander deserves the NL Cy Young Award.
Kershaw (21-5) carried a two-hitter into the eighth inning as he tied Arizona's Ian Kennedy for the NL lead in wins. He also leads the league in strikeouts (248) and ERA (2.28).
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"Right now, I'm just done," Kershaw said. "I'm already kind of mentally shutting it down. It's been an awesome year. I don't like to look at personal stuff too often. But right now, this is the time that I can start looking back a little bit. I had a lot of fun this year."
Kemp, who was just 3 for 13 in the three-game series, fell nine points behind Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in the batting race.
After starting the day six points back, Kemp went 1 for 5 as his average fell to .324. Braun was 2 for 3 and raised his average to .333, while New York's Jose Reyes was at .331 after a 2-for-4 game.
Kemp is tied with Albert Pujols of St. Louis in home runs (37) and leads the league with 120 RBI. He has three games left in Arizona starting on Monday to catch Braun.
"That's a big number to be behind with [three] games left," Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said. "You need one guy to kind of collapse and the other guy to catch fire. He's going to need a 5-for-5 day."
Neither Kershaw or Kennedy are scheduled to pitch in the final three games of the regular season. Those two pitchers along with Philadelphia's Roy Halladay are the three mentioned most often in the Cy Young discussion.
"I don't get a vote, but I'm speculating that Kershaw is going to win this," Padres manager Bud Black said.
The only player with an outside shot to move ahead of Kershaw in either strikeouts or ERA is Philadelphia's Cliff Lee, scheduled to pitch on Monday night.
Lee trails Kershaw by 16 strikeouts and has an ERA of 2.38. Even if Lee were to pitch a nine-inning shutout, he would still trail with an ERA of 2.29.
Kemp is trying to become the first player to win the Triple Crown since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. St. Louis' Ducky Medwick (1937) was the last NL player to do it.
"For me to do that would be great," Kemp said. "I still have three more games to go. Someone was screaming at me when I went to bat, 'Braun got two hits. Forget about it, man.' I just started laughing. He's actually one of my favorite players."
Kershaw dominated the Padres as he took a two-hitter and a 6-1 lead into the eighth inning.
The left-hander had allowed a home run to Aaron Cunningham in the fifth before Orlando Hudson reached on a leadoff double in the eighth and Alberto Gonzalez hit a one-out triple to knock him out of the game.
Kershaw struck out six and walked one. He became the first Dodger to win at least 21 games since 1988 when Orel Hershiser won 23 and was voted the Cy Young Award. Kershaw extended his career-high winning streak to eight games.
In his last nine starts, Kershaw has an ERA of 0.96.
"He's been amazing, 21 wins," said Kemp. "He had the ability, but I don't know if he thought he was going to be this good, this soon. But I'm very proud of him."
Kemp doubled in a run in his first at-bat to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He scored later that inning on Aaron Miles' single.
He flew out in his second at-bat, reached on an error and scored in the fifth, struck out in the seventh and ninth innings.
Kemp needs three home runs to become the fifth player in major league history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season.
Cory Luebke (6-10) allowed four runs -- three earned -- on five hits over six innings.
- Kershaw is 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA in three starts against the Padres, including his only two complete games this season.
- Luebke failed to win consecutive games in 16 starts.
- Los Angeles Dana Eveland (2-2, 3.75 ERA) will open a three-game series Monday at Arizona against RHP Daniel Hudson (16-11, 3.43). Padres RHP Mat Latos (8-14, 3.60) faces RHP Casey Coleman (3-8, 6.64) of the visiting Cubs in the opener of a three-game series Monday.