Clayton Kershaw didn't think he pitched that well. He said his fastball command was lacking.
The Kansas City Royals disagreed with the Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander.
Kershaw lost his no-hitter early, but he pitched another gem as the Dodgers beat the Royals 2-0 Tuesday night.
Kershaw, who threw a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies in his previous start, tossed eight shutout innings against Kansas City. He gave up six hits and a walk while striking out eight.
The Royals got only one runner to third base against Kershaw (8-2). That occurred in the seventh inning, when second baseman Omar Infante and third baseman Danny Valencia singled with one out. Infante made it to third on right fielder Justin Maxwell's fielder's choice grounder. The inning ended with shortstop Alcides Escobar grounding out.
"It definitely wasn't easy," Kershaw said. "I made some pitches when I had to. Tonight I was making a lot more stressful pitches. The no-hitter was stressful for more personal reasons."
Kershaw, the 2011 and 2013 National League Cy Young Award winner, won his fifth straight start, departing after throwing a season-high 108 pitches.
Manager Don Mattingly said there was no way he was going to allow Kershaw to come out for the ninth and considered removing him after seven innings.
"His fastball command wasn't where he wanted it, but typical Clayton," Mattingly said. "All night he felt like he was fighting it."
Over his past five starts, Kershaw yielded 21 hits and four runs in 37 innings for a 0.97 ERA.
If this was not Kershaw at his best, the Royals certainly do not what to see that Kershaw.
"That's the best slider we've seen all year long," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "That thing had teeth. I mean, it was biting. You're not going to see a better one. We had two opportunities with two out to make something happen, but the slider got us. He just pitched a great game."
The Dodgers scored in the first inning on first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's groundout. They added a run in the ninth, when Andre Ethier's pinch single to center scored Gonzalez, who led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on catcher A.J. Ellis' single.
Kenley Jansen worked a spotless ninth, striking out two, to log his 23rd save in 25 opportunities.
Royals left-hander Danny Duffy (4-7) pitched well in defeat, giving up a run on four hits in six innings while walking four and striking out five. Duffy threw a season-high 105 pitches.
"He wasn't sharp, didn't have his best stuff, and he found a way to get us through six innings," Yost said. "He really should have been out of the game after six innings with no runs scored. I thought he did a great job of battling and containing the damage and getting us through six innings. I thought it was a phenomenal job."
Kershaw's bid to throw back-to-back no-hitters ended quickly. The lefty gave up a groundball single to first baseman Eric Hosmer, the second batter he faced, on his eighth pitch. Hosmer was immediately erased as designated hitter Billy Butler grounded into a double play on his next pitch.
Third baseman Justin Turner led off the game with a triple to right-center in an 11-pitch battle with Duffy. Turner fouled off six pitches, five with two strikes, before his first triple of the season. After designated hitter Yasiel Puig's infield single, which the Royals challenged and lost the review after a 121-second delay, Turner scored on Gonzalez's fielder's choice grounder.
"Turner's a tough out, kudos to him for staying in there and battling," Duffy said. "I just tried to battle through it and get as far into the game as I can. Personally I'm proud of the way I got through six. You can always do better. You eliminate that first inning and that first at-bat of the game, we're looking at a zero-zero tie. I tried to be strong through six. Command was erratic."
Kershaw faced the minimum number of batters through three innings, but Hosmer singled up the middle with one out in the fourth and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After left fielder Alex Gordon walked with two outs, Kershaw retired catcher Salvador Perez on a grounder to Turner.
"He's as good as advertised, that's for sure, every bit of it," Hosmer said of Kershaw. "He's definitely got his game plan, which he sticks to the whole time. He's got four well above average pitches. The main thing about him is he gets ahead and attacks you early. That's a guy you don't want to get behind on with his great off-speed and a fastball that he can hump to 95-96 (mph). Luckily, that's the last time we face him."
NOTES: Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez was a late scratch from the lineup due to recurring discomfort in his right shoulder. Ramirez, who stroked a two-run double in the eighth inning Monday, received a cortisone shot two weeks ago for AC joint irritation. Carlos Truinfel replaced Ramirez at shortstop and went 0-for-3. ... Royals LHP Bruce Chen, who was on the 60-day disabled list because of a bulging back disk, was activated. Chen will be used in long relief after beginning the season in the rotation. ... The Royals optioned LHP Tim Collins, who was 0-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 18 relief appearances, to Triple-A Omaha. ... LHP Donnie Joseph was designated for assignment by Kansas City. He gave up six runs on five hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning June 16 against the Detroit Tigers, his lone major league appearance of the season.