Sandy Kershaw wins 20 and makes a bid for Cy Young.
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Some three hours and 3,000 miles apart, Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw more or less settled whatever debate remained about the National League Cy Young Award.
Barring an unforeseen shellacking in his final start, the award will be Kershaw's.
Just 23 years old, Kershaw won his 20th game in grand fashion Tuesday night, shutting out the San Francisco Giants into the eighth inning. And for the fourth time this season, he out-dueled two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum in leading the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory.
Kershaw improved to 20-5, and currently holds the "Triple Crown" in NL pitching categories:
Wins -- 20, tied for first with Arizona's Ian Kennedy
ERA -- 2.27, ahead of Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto (2.31) and Philadelphia's Lee (2.38)
Strikeouts -- 242, ahead of Lee (232), Lincecum and Roy Halladay (both with 217).
He's also a very close second in WHIP (0.99 to Cole Hamels' 0.98, with Lee third at 1.03 and Halladay fourth at 1.05). Halladay (227 2/3) and Lee (226 2/3) edge Kershaw (226) in innings pitched, though that could flip as the Phillies ease up some for the playoffs.
Lee had a chance to burnish his resume Tuesday night as well, and like Kershaw he was pitching at home against a less-than-stellar lineup. But Lee gave up an uncharacteristic 11 hits in seven innings, including a home run to Danny Espinosa, and the Nationals beat him 3-2.
That game was over by the time Kershaw took the mound, and in an otherwise lost season at Chavez Ravine, the greater meaning of Tuesday's game wasn't lost on the Dodgers.
"It was special, man," outfielder Matt Kemp told the Los Angeles Times. ""Twenty-three years old, 20 wins. That's a great accomplishment. We knew what was at stake tonight."
And while the Dodgers haven't been a factor in the pennant race, a case could be made that Kershaw tipped the scales of the NL West race himself. He improved to 5-0 against the Giants, and beat Lincecum for the fourth time this season. His effort Tuesday snapped an eight-game Giants winning streak.
Kershaw became the Dodgers' first 20-game winner since Ramon Martinez. While reliever Eric Gagne won the NL Cy Young in 2003, Kershaw would be the first Dodgers starting pitcher to claim the award since Orel Hershiser in 1988.
"This is a great organization and we've had some pretty awesome pitchers come through here, so I don't take it lightly," Kershaw said afterward. "But at the same time, I haven't really thought about it or let it sink in."