CHICAGO (AP) — Clayton Kershaw remembered getting knocked out in the shortest start of his stellar career. Fair to say, things went a little better for him in his return to Wrigley Field.

Kershaw dominated over seven innings and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the struggling Chicago Cubs 7-0 in the opener of a split doubleheader on Saturday.

Freddie Freeman doubled three times and scored twice, helping the NL West leaders win for the 16th time in 21 games. Austin Barnes homered and drove in three runs.

Kershaw (4-0) gave up five hits, struck out two and walked one. The three-time Cy Young Award winner bounced back from a tough-luck loss to Detroit in which he surpassed Hall of Famer Don Sutton as the Dodgers’ career strikeout leader.

It was also a huge improvement over his previous appearance at Wrigley. Kershaw lasted just one inning on May 4, 2021, and the Dodgers lost 7-1 in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.

Asked if he feels better about pitching in the Friendly Confines, Kershaw said, “Not really. But it worked out today.”

On a windy afternoon, Kershaw combined with two relievers for Los Angeles’ third shutout of the season. The twinbill was part of a makeup from Friday’s rainout.

“Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good,” Kershaw said. “Those first couple innings, they hit a lot of balls hard and right at guys. The wind was swirling, pushing the ball in a little bit.”

Barnes hit a solo drive in the fourth against Drew Smyly and added a two-run single in the eighth. Justin Turner drove in two with a double in the fifth, making it 4-0 and the Dodgers continued to roll along coming off a two-game sweep of San Francisco in which they outscored their rivals by a combined 12-2.

The Cubs were hurt by sloppy play in the field and on the bases in their eighth loss in 10 games. They were shut out for the first time since a 10-0 drubbing by Milwaukee on Aug. 11, 2021.

Smyly (1-3) lasted 4 1/3 innings in his return from the bereavement list. The left-hander lost his third straight start, allowing two earned runs and six hits in his first outing since April 28.

“I think he’s throwing great,” manager David Ross said. “I think eight days off is tough to be sharp. We saw first inning uncharacteristic of him not consistent with where he wanted to go. I think the rust got knocked off but threw extremely well, to be honest with you. Just high pitch count, eight days off and got up to 100. The most he’s been at. I thought he threw well and gave us a chance to win.”

CUBS CAUGHT

Chicago’s Seiya Suzuki got caught off first by Kershaw after drawing a walk in the first inning. Nico Hoerner got tagged out jogging toward second following an infield single in the second, apparently thinking the ball was out of play after shortstop Trea Turner threw wildly to first on his single.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RHP Blake Treinen (right shoulder discomfort) is scheduled for an MRI in Los Angeles on Monday. He has been sidelined since April 14. … LHP Andrew Heaney (shoulder inflammation) was to start throwing this weekend.

Cubs: LHP Wade Miley (left elbow inflammation) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday. He tossed four scoreless innings Thursday for Triple-A Iowa in a rehab start against St. Paul. “Efficient. Quick,” Ross said. “It’s always nice to get on there and watch it and it takes you about three minutes, as fast as he works. He felt good coming out of it.” … SS Andrelton Simmons (right shoulder inflammation) started a rehab assignment with Iowa on Saturday. … RHP Alec Mills (strained lower back) will start throwing off the mound in the next few days.

UP NEXT

The Dodgers will go with LHP Tyler Anderson (2-0, 2.55 ERA) in Game 2, while Cubs LHP Daniel Norris (0-1, 6.00) makes his first major league start since Aug. 2, 2020 — a loss for Detroit against Cincinnati.

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