Dodgers send Kershaw to the hill in San Diego

Clayton Kershaw didn't think he needed the extra rest the Los Angeles Dodgers decided to give him, but a few days off never hurt anybody.

Looking to further his case for a second NL Cy Young Award, Kershaw returns to the hill on Saturday night when the Dodgers resume a three-game set against the San Diego Padres.

Kershaw is 14-9 with an MLB-best 1.94 earned run average in 31 starts this year. His 214 strikeouts are tops in the NL, but he has already logged 223 innings this season.

With that in mind, the Dodgers opted to push back his next start to tonight, giving the left-hander three extra days of rest. His last outing came on Sept. 13 versus San Francisco and he lost a 4-2 decision after giving up three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits over seven innings.

While Kershaw's record is inferior to the 21-5 record he posted in his 2011 Cy Young-winning campaign, he is on pace to top the 2.28 ERA he posted that year.

However, none of that matters if Kershaw can't perform in the postseason, something he thought the extra rest factored into.

"I don't know if protect is a good word," Kershaw told the Dodgers' website earlier in the week. "They want me to be well-rested if I pitch deep (into October). I don't think I need it, but I'm not going to argue about it."

The 25-year-old could have some extra juice in his arm thanks to the rest as he goes for his first win of the season versus the Padres. He lost all three previous encounters with them while posting a 4.67 ERA.

While Kershaw is the favorite to capture another top pitching award, Padres right-hander Burch Smith is just looking to be a factor in 2014. He is 1-1 with a 6.57 ERA over his first eight MLB outings this year, including five starts, but has given up just two earned runs in two starts this month.

Smith was stellar in logging his first career win on Sunday over Atlanta. He began the game with five no-hit frames and ended up logging seven scoreless frames in the 4-0 decision. The 23-year-old scattered three hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts.

"It's good to get that one out of the way. I don't have that hanging over my head anymore," said Smith of obtaining his inaugural win. "It's a good team win. Good defense, a lot of guys stepped up at the plate."

Smith faces the Dodgers for the first time.

One night after clinching the NL West title, the Dodgers rested a host of regulars in a 2-0 loss to the Padres. Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier were all held out of the starting lineup.

Former Padre Edinson Volquez allowed both runs over 6 1/3 innings to take the loss.

"I used to be here and I know where the ball travels," said Volquez. "I was just trying to keep my pitches down and keep the ball in the grass when they did hit it."

Skip Schumaker had three hits in Los Angeles' sixth loss in eight games.

Robbie Erlin allowed four hits and a walk over 7 2/3 innings, striking out seven in the victory.

"He can get the ball in on the hands of the righties and the lefties," said San Diego manager Bud Black about Erlin. "He looked really good out there and we're going to keep working on him through the winter."

The Padres, who had just five hits, won for the fifth time in six games. Jedd Gyorko homered and drove in both runs.

The Dodgers had won five in a row versus the Padres and still lead the season series 9-8.