Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw exits with back pain before sweep

SAN FRANCISCO — Clayton Kershaw left his start with low back pain and the Los Angeles Dodgers went on to beat the San Francisco Giants 5-3 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep.

Kershaw felt discomfort while he was warming up before the bottom of the fifth inning. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner winced and pointed to his dugout, and then walked off the field gingerly with a trainer.

“Just felt something kind of lock up there in the fifth and couldn’t really throw after that,” Kershaw said. “Something in my back again.”

Kershaw said he saw a doctor, and would know more about his condition on Friday.

He made 66 pitches through four innings against the Giants, allowing one earned run and three hits with four strikeouts.

“Obviously, anytime a pitcher’s got to come out of a game, there’s some concern level,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Given it’s his back which has been problematic at times — we just won’t know more until we get some tests.”

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw walks in the dugout after exiting the game with lower back pain.
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Kershaw has dealt with back issues throughout much of his career. He spent time on the injured list earlier this season due to inflammation in a pelvic joint.

Mookie Betts and Trea Turner homered for Los Angeles, which completed its first four-game sweep in San Francisco since 1977. The majors-leading Dodgers have won eight straight games against the Giants, matching the longest streak in Los Angeles history.

“We’re playing really good baseball,” Roberts said. “We got timely hitting, (made) plays defensively that we need to (make). We’re doing things to win baseball games, so it’s really, really good to see.”

J.D. Davis hit his first home run as a Giants, who fell to a majors-worst 3-12 since the All-Star break.

“We’re all frustrated,” San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said. “We don’t want to play like this.”

Gavin Lux singled home Max Muncy in the second inning to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Davis answered with a two-run homer to right in the bottom half.

Betts put Los Angeles back in front with a three-run homer in the fourth, his 25th of the year. Turner added his 18th home run in the seventh.

Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw
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Brandon Belt doubled off Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel and scored on a wild pitch in the ninth.

Chris Martin (2-0) was credited with the win after pitching a scoreless sixth inning. Kimbrel earned his 20th save in 23 opportunities.

Jakob Junis (4-3) allowed three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking two.

Kapler and García tossed

Kapler and reliever Jarlin García were both ejected after the top of the sixth inning. García struck out James Outman to end the inning and had words with Betts, who was on deck, mimicking the Dodgers’ celebration gesture of pounding their helmets following hits.

First base umpire Phil Cuzzi walked to the Giants dugout to talk to Kapler, who became furious and was ejected for the first time as San Francisco manager.

“The conversation was basically, ‘That wasn’t OK. That behavior wasn’t okay,’” Kapler said. “And obviously, I took exception to sort of being scolded in front of our dugout about how to approach and address our players.”

The umpires issued warnings to both benches and pitchers.

“He did that (gesture) against me the other day when he hit a home run, and I just thought, you know what, let me do the same thing,” García said through a translator. “It wasn’t trying to be disrespectful with anyone. I mean, not even Mookie Betts. He’s one of my favorite players. I respect all of them, especially him. But it’s just getting caught up in the moment, trying to compete.”

Betts was completely caught off-guard.

“I didn’t do anything,” he said. “It all was pretty surprising to me.

“I just said, ‘What’s your problem?’ I don’t know. I was just standing on deck.”