LOS ANGELES -- When a Cy Young Award winner needs a few days to rest his sore elbow, just replace him with a two-time Cy Young winner.
The Dodgers have unique weaponry and deployed it Thursday night, subbing out starter Zack Greinke and sliding in the incomparable Clayton Kershaw, who rode Justin Turner's two-run homer in the eighth inning for a rare 2-1 comeback win over the Padres.
How rare? The Dodgers were 0-46 in games they trailed going into the eighth inning this year until Turner took Tyson Ross deep to turn around the All-Star pitchers' duel.
"We're all aware of it," Turner said of the team's dreadful inability to rally late. "It's all anyone is talking about."
Well, there's been at least a little talk about Kershaw, like a possible third Cy Young and even an MVP, which should gain a little more traction after this one. As manager Don Mattingly said the night before, when the Dodgers need a lift, Kershaw is usually the one to provide it.
"I mean, why not?" Turner said of an MVP selection for Kershaw. "He goes out there and you know, when he has the ball, he's the best player on the field. I'm all for it. He's got my vote."
In eight innings, Kershaw allowed three hits, struck out 10 and walked two. Rebounding from a well-pitched loss that snapped an 11-game win streak, he raised his record to 15-3 with a 1.82 ERA.
"I was able to make it through eight innings and stay in long enough for Turner to get the big hit," said Kershaw.
The ace was moved up a day in the rotation to give Greinke's barking elbow two extra days of rest, able to adjust his rigorous routine despite the late notice because of Monday's off-day.
Typically, Kershaw downplayed the savior role, deflecting the importance of his start with the rotation wracked by injuries.
"We need to win no matter what," Kershaw said. "The Giants are playing better lately."
With the win, the Dodgers stayed 3 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco atop the National League West.
Kershaw, who no-hit the Rockies on June 18, didn't allow a hit until Ross' two-out single in the sixth beyond the reach of shortstop Miguel Rojas, who saved Kershaw's no-hitter against Colorado with a big-time play at third base.
Kershaw didn't allow a run until the seventh inning. Abraham Almonte led off with a sharp single past Turner at third and Jedd Gyorko walked. Tommy Medica flied to center, Almonte tagging to third. After a wild pitched advanced Gyorko to second, Rene Rivera singled home Almonte to break the scoreless tie.
"I don't know how to explain it," Mattingly said of Kershaw's consistency. "I don't think I've seen anybody like this guy. I think Clayton ... he's just constantly driven, start to start. Tomorrow he'll be on to the next one, and he'll just be on a mission for that one.
"A guy that just has a huge motor, as far as wanting to compete."
The Dodgers' offense was stifled by Ross. Two Dodgers who did get on base, Carl Crawford and Dee Gordon, were thrown out trying to steal second, as Ross has improved holding runners.
"They were swinging early in the count and I got a lot of first-pitch groundouts," Ross said.
But after Crawford's infield single off Ross' glove led off the bottom of the eighth -- the Padres chose not to challenge a close call at first -- Turner went deep, again proving his value as the fill-in for injured third baseman Juan Uribe.
"That's one of the most exciting moments of my career right there, one of the biggest hits I've ever gotten," said Turner, batting .314 with an .827 OPS. "To do it on a team that's battling and trying to win a pennant is a good feeling.
"Watching the game the last few innings, when [Ross] fell behind, he was going to the slider a lot. Fell behind 1-0, I was looking for that slider up in the zone. He left it up in the middle of the plate. I put a pretty good swing on it. Davey [Lopes] was waiting to give me a high-five, so that was cool. I've never really got to high-five the first-base coach on a home run."
The camera caught Kershaw as excited as anybody in the dugout.
"I didn't know if we'd bunt him over, then the ball goes out," he said. "It was pretty awesome."
Ross is 0-4 against the Dodgers despite a 2.67 ERA. Greinke will start Saturday night. Kenley Jansen was credited with his 36th save.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.