Clayton Kershaw set such high standards for himself that he had trouble shaking off what he deemed a poor start at the beginning of the season.
It's safe to say that issue is well behind him.
After another scoreless outing, Kershaw looks to help the Los Angeles Dodgers stay hot when he faces the slumping Oakland Athletics on the road Tuesday night.
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Kershaw (10-6, 2.39 ERA) had an ERA of 4.32 in his first nine starts after losing to San Francisco on May 21, the latest it stood above 4.00 since 2009.
The reigning NL MVP and Cy Young winner has been a force since, posting a 1.30 ERA in his last 14 starts. Kershaw beat Washington 3-0 on Wednesday by pitching at least eight scoreless innings for the fifth time in six outings, a stretch during which he's gone 5-0 with a 0.75 ERA.
The left-hander's latest stellar effort came after he gave up a homer to the first batter he faced in the Dodgers' 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh on Aug. 7, one of four runs he allowed that snapped his 37-inning scoreless streak.
''I like consistency,'' Kershaw said. ''When you start looking around at the Mark Buehrle streaks, the Dan Harens, the guys that don't go on the DL, the guys that are around for a long time, I have a lot of respect for those guys. Hopefully in 10 years or so, I'll be in that category.''
It's taken far less time for him to be considered one of the best pitchers in baseball. Kershaw matched Sandy Koufax's franchise record and became the third pitcher in NL history to record six straight 200-strikeout seasons by racking up eight Wednesday.
The NL West-leading Dodgers (67-51) again have the luxury of pitching Kershaw after Zack Greinke, who won his fourth straight start and hit the tiebreaking homer in the fifth inning of Sunday's 2-1 win over Cincinnati.
Los Angeles, winner of five of six, improved to 113-54 since Greinke signed with the club for the 2013 season when he or Kershaw starts. It is 140-135 in all other contests.
Greinke's home run was the Dodgers' NL-high 146th, which is 12 more than they had all of last season. Adrian Gonzalez homered in Los Angeles' two previous games, and he's homered in both career at-bats against Felix Doubront, who looks to help last-place Oakland (51-69) avoid an eighth straight defeat.
Doubront (1-1, 4.59) has allowed five runs in 10 2-3 innings over two relief appearances since being acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline. He most recently pitched Wednesday against his former team, and he posted a 4.76 ERA in four starts and one relief effort for the Blue Jays.
The left-hander might have to work without much offensive support as the A's were outscored 52-20 on a winless seven-game road trip. Mark Canha and Danny Valencia homered in Monday's 4-2 loss to Baltimore.
Sonny Gray, originally slated to oppose Kershaw before being pushed up after missing Thursday's start with back spasms, allowed three unearned runs as Oakland committed three of its MLB-high 99 errors.
The A's haven't lost eight in a row since a nine-game skid May 22-June 1, 2012.
''When you have your ace on the mound, you want to play clean defensively,'' manager Bob Melvin said. ''When you are not scoring many runs, you want to give yourself a chance because you know ... runs are going to be tough to come by.''
The A's missed Kershaw and Greinke when they split two games with the Dodgers on July 28 and 29 at Chavez Ravine.