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Baseball Notebook: Crown fits Kershaw

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw leads the National League in wins, strikeouts and ERA. (Associated Press)
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw leads the National League in wins, strikeouts and ERA. (Associated Press)

One Triple Crown down, one to go.

Clayton Kershaw all but clinched the National League pitching Triple Crown with his 21st victory but Matt Kemp suffered a major setback in his attempt to become the majors’ first Triple Crown winner in 44 seasons following the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 6-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Kershaw’s dominant performance helped bolster Dodgers claims that the left-hander deserves the N.L. Cy Young Award.

Kershaw (21-5) carried a two-hitter into the eighth inning as he tied Arizona’s Ian Kennedy for the N.L. lead in wins.

He also leads the league in strikeouts (248) and ERA (2.28).

“Right now, I’m just done,” Kershaw said. “I’m already kind of mentally shutting it down. It’s been an awesome year. I don’t like to look at personal stuff too often. But right now, this is the time that I can start looking back a little bit. I had a lot of fun this year.”

Kemp, who was just 3 for 13 in the three-game series, fell nine points behind Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun in the batting race.

After starting the day six points back, Kemp went 1 for 5 as his average fell to .324. Braun was 2 for 3 and raised his average to .333. New York’s Jose Reyes was at .331 after a 2-for-4 game.

Kemp is tied with Albert Pujols of St. Louis in home runs (37) and leads the league with 120 RBIs. He has three games left in Arizona starting today to catch Braun.

Nats explore innings limit for Strasburg

Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg will be on an innings limit next season as he continues his comeback from reconstructive surgery on his pitching elbow.

“I’ve already calculated it, semi-calculated it, in my mind with our medical staff and our pitching people,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We’ve already discussed it.”

Rizzo didn’t say what Strasburg’s limit will be.

“We’re still at the beginning of that process. We want to find out how he feels at the end of the season and where he’s at. We’ll calculate it and see what’s a comfortable amount for him,” Rizzo said.

Strasburg had his ligament-replacement operation in September 2010, then returned to the majors this September.

He is 0-1 with a 2.00 ERA, zero walks and 14 strikeouts in 18 innings heading into the fifth start of his comeback Wednesday at the Florida Marlins on the last day of the regular season.