- Associated Press - Sunday, March 12, 2017

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) - Clayton Kershaw will not make it through spring training unblemished.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner entered Sunday with six hitless innings in his first three Cactus League starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But then Mike Moustakas, the second Kansas City Royals batter, ended that by sending a 1-1 pitch from Kershaw over the right-field fence.

That was a rare occurrence - Kershaw did not yield a home run to a left-handed batter last season. Moustakas was the lone left-handed hitter in the Royals‘ lineup.

Yet that was all Kershaw allowed in four innings as the Dodgers won 5-4. Lorenzo Cain’s infield single with two outs in the third was the only other Kansas City hit off Kershaw. The Royals have lost six straight.

“Fun,” Kershaw said in describing his outing. “Not good, but not bad. It was good to get four innings again, back out for the fifth in the bullpen. I mixed in every pitch at some point.

“Some good results with everything at times and at times obviously it wasn’t good, but it is part of it, I guess.”

While Royals starter Nathan Karns labored through 61 pitches over two innings, Kershaw threw 55 pitches, including only eight in the second. He struck out four and walked one.

Kershaw continues to fine-tune his changeup.

“I threw a couple today that were OK,” he said. “It’s usually how it works. You’ve got to throw some and get some good results with it to gain some confidence. Pitching is just confidence with your pitches.

“If you have intent behind it, more likely than not you’re going to have success. For me it’s just building up that confidence with that pitch.”

Kershaw, who has allowed one run and two hits while striking out nine and walking two in 10 innings this spring, would not elaborate on what he threw in the bullpen.

“Something I need to work on that I need to get hitters out,” he said.

Even though the Royals used Jorge Soler as the designated hitter, Kershaw opted to hit. He had an infield single off Karns in his first at-bat and scored in a four-run second inning when the Dodgers batted around.

“I don’t know about good, but probably necessary,” Kershaw of getting a bat in his hands again. “Not the greatest of hacks. It worked out the first time. I’m probably the biggest, slowest slap hitter in the game. I was fortunate he couldn’t find the ball.”

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