Clayton Kershaw’s ping pong tournament going strong in second year.

Ping Pong 4 Purpose

Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (holding the Stella Artois can) and comedian George Lopez play ping pong Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. (David Crane/Staff photographer)


When Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul team up, how can they lose?

On a superficial level, Thursday night proved it was possible. Columnist Jill Painter reports that the two were bounced in the first round of Kershaw’s second annual “Ping Pong 4 Purpose” charity event at Dodger Stadium.

In all the ways that matter, Kershaw carried the day. A slew of Hollywood celebrities and Dodger players participated in the event, whose proceeds benefit Kershaw’s Challenge. From Jill’s column:

The money raised from the event will go toward building another orphanage in Africa and money to help pay for surgeries and medical care. In addition, funds will help the Dream Center, an organization that helps people move from the street to transitional housing.

Click here to view a photo gallery from the event.

Greg Maddux offers some high praise for Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw pauses before throwing the final pitch of his no-hitter June 18 at Dodger Stadium. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

SAN DIEGO >> Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw‘s name has been linked to Greg Maddux quite a bit in recent years. Last year, Kershaw became the first pitcher since Maddux to lead the majors in earned-run average in three consecutive seasons.

This year, Kershaw is on track to make it four years in a row. He’s 16-3 with a 1.73 ERA and a major-league leading six complete games.

Maddux never finished higher than third in National League Most Valuable Player voting in 23 major-league seasons. Speaking Friday at Petco Park, the recently inducted Hall of Famer thinks Kershaw has a shot at winning the award this year.

“I don’t have a vote,” Maddux said, asked if Kershaw should win the award. “That [winning three straight MLB ERA titles] is what it would take for a pitcher to win the MVP. That and a down year on the hitter’s side.”

It so happens that offense is down across the board this season. The OPS for the entire major leagues is .703, which would be the lowest mark since 1992 (.700).

Even though he wouldn’t commit an MVP vote to Kershaw, Maddux offered some high praise for his former teammate.

“His consistency is off the charts good,” Maddux said. “Everybody who wears a major-league uniform is good in their own way. There’s guys who can do it every time they put on the uniform. … Every time you see a player whose bad games are good, it’s special.”

Zack Greinke’s next start moved back two days because of sore elbow. Update.

Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke isn’t expected to go on the disabled list because of a sore right elbow. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Zack Greinke‘s next start will be pushed back two days, to Saturday against the New York Mets, because of soreness in his right elbow.

Greinke had an MRI on the elbow two weeks ago that “didn’t show anything different than when we first signed him,” Mattingly said. He isn’t expected to go on the disabled list.

But with Kershaw able to start tomorrow on regular rest — as well as Dan Haren, who now starts Friday — the Dodgers decided to hold Greinke back as a precaution.

“We’re better off giving him a couple extra days for the long term,” Mattingly said.

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Kevin Correia’s Dodgers debut could come tomorrow.

MILWAUKEE — We didn’t bother asking Dan Haren if he was starting tomorrow in Atlanta. His name was on the sheet. There was no reason to expect otherwise.

Besides, Haren earned it. In his most recent start in Anaheim, he gave up three singles, didn’t walk a batter, and only allowed one run in the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Angels on Wednesday. His reward: His next turn in the rotation will be pushed back – at least for one day, it seems — by new Dodger Kevin Correia.

“We talked to (Correia) last night,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He seemed excited about being here. As I told him, right now we’ll use him as spot starts, coming out of the bullpen kind of filling Paul (Maholm)’s role, having some length but also giving us some insurance at the starter’s spot.”

When might that spot start come up?

“It might come up tomorrow,” Mattingly said. “That would come up quick. If it would come up tomorrow, hypothetically speaking, during this little stretch of all the games in a row to give our guys a little bit of a breather. Making sure we’re not overtaxing Kersh, Greinke. We know Hyun-Jin’s pitched better with that little extra day.”

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Clayton Kershaw is the odds-on favorite to win the National League MVP award.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw can match Orel Hershiser’s franchise record for most consecutive wins by beating the Angels today. (Getty Images)

As if you needed another reason to watch Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout in tonight’s Angels-Dodgers game: The two young stars are now the odds-on favorites to win the MVP award in their respective leagues, per online oddsmaker Bovada.

Kershaw is now the 4-to-7 favorite to win the National League MVP, ahead of second-place Giancarlo Stanton (7 to 4) and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig (10 to 1).

Kershaw enters tonight’s game unbeaten in his last 11 starts since June 2, going 10-0 with a 0.94 ERA, five complete games, two shutouts, 104 strikeouts (against only eight walks) and a .165 opponents’ batting average (49-for-297) in that span. A win tonight would give Kershaw the longest winning streak of his career and match Orel Hershiser’s team record run from July 18 to Oct. 2, 1985.

He also leads the Majors in ERA (1.71), wins (13, tied with Madison Bumgarner, Wily Peralta, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright), strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.00) and WHIP (0.82).

Here’s the complete list of updated odds:

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Clayton Kershaw is the National League pitcher of the month for July.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw was named the National League pitcher of the month for the second straight month. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)


Call it “The Summer of Kershaw.”

Clayton Kershaw picked up his second consecutive National League Pitcher of the Month award on Monday, having also won the honor in June.

In five outings last month, Kershaw was 4-0 with a N.L.-best 1.07 ERA. He completed three of the five games, tied for first in the N.L. in wins, and posted the second-lowest opponents’ batting average (.165) among qualifying N.L. pitchers. Kershaw fanned 43 during the month, which was good for fourth in the Senior Circuit, while walking only four.

Burt Hooton was the last Dodgers pitcher to win the Pitcher of the Month award in consecutive months, in August and September 1975. Don Sutton also pulled the feat in April and May of 1975.

This is Kershaw’s fourth career Pitcher of the Month Award, having won previously for July 2011, July 2013 and June 2014.

Josh Beckett starts Tuesday, and the immediate future of the Dodgers’ rotation.

Josh Beckett

Associated Press photo

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly confirmed that Josh Beckett will come off the disabled list and start tomorrow’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, “barring anything unforeseen happening today.”

Beckett missed only one start after being placed on the disabled list July 8. Paul Maholm stepped in and threw six shutout innings against the San Diego Padres on July 12.

The Dodgers will need to make a corresponding roster move when Beckett is activated from the DL. The most likely candidate to come off the roster is left-hander Paco Rodriguez, if only because he can be optioned to Triple-A and the Dodgers will still have two left-handed pitchers in the bullpen: Maholm and J.P. Howell.

The Dodgers have days off on Thursday and Monday. Will Mattingly reshuffle the rotation?

Dan Haren has lost three straight starts while posting a 9.64 earned-run average. By skipping his next turn, aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke would each pitch this weekend against the San Francisco Giants and next week against the Atlanta Braves.

“It’s not something we’re willing to talk about at this point,” Mattingly said. “We know who’s going to pitch these next three games. From there, we start having some options. We want to make sure everybody knows where they’re going to be so their work schedule goes along with that.”