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Kershaw lasts 3 innings in return, strikes out 5

MIAMI — The Los Angeles Dodgers welcomed back their ace with open arms as Clayton Kershaw took the mound Friday for the first time in 75 days.

Out since late June with a lower-back injury, the three-time Cy Young Award winner gave up two runs on five hits over three innings against the Miami Marlins, throwing 66 pitches in the process.

It was not vintage Kershaw by any means, but the left-hander still recorded five strikeouts, striking out the side in the second inning.

The Dodgers are just happy to get one of the game's best pitchers back in the fold.

"As well as we're playing right now, it's a huge lift," manager Dave Roberts said before the game. "Not only him being out there, but just for his sanity. I think he's been going crazy just watching his teammates. I know the guys are very excited for him."

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw threw 66 pitches over three innings — striking out five — in his return from a lower-back injury. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Kershaw needed 14 pitches in the first inning, 29 in the second and 23 more in the third. He gave up a solo home run to J.T. Realmuto in the opening inning and an RBI single to Chris Johnson in the second. Kershaw gave up three hits in the second inning, including a comebacker up the middle from opposing pitcher Jose Fernandez that knocked him to the ground.

Five of the last six outs Kershaw recorded were via strikeout. He exited trailing the Marlins 2-0.

The short outing was not a complete surprise, especially considering the Dodgers are slowly building up his pitch count. In his only minor league rehab start earlier this week, Kershaw threw 34 pitches and then 15 more in the bullpen after his outing.

Before he went to the disabled list with a mild disk herniation, Kershaw was 11-2 in 16 starts with a 1.79 ERA and had 145 strikeouts to just nine walks.

It was the second time Kershaw has been on the disabled list in his career — he also sat out over a month at the outset of the 2014 season when he won both the National League Cy Young and MVP awards.

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