Kershaw (back) exits early, even as Dodgers pick up speed

SAN FRANCISCO – Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw left with back pain before the bottom of the fifth inning of Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Giants at Oracle Park.

As he warmed up for the fifth pitch, Kershaw felt his back tighten after his last practice throw. He then attempted another throw to test the back, but immediately pointed to the Dodgers dugout. He left the game with trainer Thomas Albert.

Kershaw said he’ll know more after seeing how he stacks up on Friday and after a series of tests. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also said there’s always a level of concern when it comes to Keshaw’s back, but he didn’t have much information until Friday.

“It’s a fair amount,” Kershaw said, when asked how frustrating it was to deal with back issues. “I just felt something lock up in the fifth. Couldn’t really throw after that. “

The future Hall of Famer has dealt with back issues throughout his career, landing on the injured list with a back injury in five of his past seven seasons. Kershaw has missed less than three weeks in each stint on the injured list. This season, Kershaw missed a month with right SI joint inflammation, which flared up during a cross-country flight.

While the Dodgers will know more after testing, another stint on the injured list isn’t off the table for Kershaw.

“I wouldn’t try to go too far beyond that,” Roberts said. “Obviously any time a pitcher has to come out of a game, there’s some level of concern. Again, it’s the back that’s been problematic at times – we won’t know more until we do some testing. “

It would be another big blow for the Dodgers if Kershaw is forced to miss time. When healthy, Kershaw has been one of the club’s best pitchers, posting a 2.64 ERA over 15 starts. The Dodgers did not trade for a starting pitcher before the Aug. 2 trade deadline. Instead, they traded right-hander Mitch White — their best depth piece.

Dustin May, who pitched four innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday during his rehab assignment, will need at least one outing in the minors before becoming a candidate to replace any starts Kershaw might miss. Ryan Pepiot, who has a 2.76 ERA in four starts this season, is also an option.