LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw is headed to the disabled list for the second straight summer because of a back injury.
A year after missing 2 1/2 months with a herniated disk in his lower back, Kershaw was pulled from a start Sunday against Atlanta because of lower back tightness. The Los Angeles Dodgers ace exited after two innings in a 5-4, 10-inning victory.
It leaves baseball's top team without its best pitcher. The Dodgers lead the majors with a 68-31 record and are atop the NL West standings by 10 ½ games.
Kershaw was set to meet with a back specialist Sunday evening for tests, although manager Dave Roberts was already sure that Kershaw would be placed on the 10-day DL.
Kershaw is 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA. The Dodgers are 19-2 when he starts this season, including winning their last 15 games.
Roberts declined to speculate on the severity of Kershaw's injury or how long the left-hander could be out.
Kershaw said he got hurt while taking warm-up throws before the second inning after retiring the side on eight pitches in the first.
"Just felt a little something in my back that wasn't normal," a subdued Kershaw said.
The Dodgers were 41-36 when Kershaw went down last season and trailed San Francisco by eight games. In his absence, Los Angeles went 38-24 and moved into first place by five games by the time he returned in early September. Kershaw didn't need surgery last year and pitched the Dodgers into the NL Championship Series, where they lost to the eventual World Series champion Cubs.
"I've done just countless hours of back maintenance and rehab and everything just trying to stay healthy, and felt really, really good up to this point, so there's definitely some frustration," Kershaw said.
Kershaw decided not to pitch for Team USA in this year's World Baseball Classic, saying he owed it to the Dodgers to remain healthy for an entire season.
"There wasn't any shooting pain down the leg or the sensations that he felt last year, so that's encouraging," Roberts said, "but what he means to our ball club and his history, there's some pause.
"From what I understand, it's more muscular, so that sharpness he felt last year is not what he felt today. The scans could prove different."
The Dodgers also lost starter Brandon McCarthy to the DL with a blister.