After a terrible series with the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers have corrected their errors and began their winning ways against the Ryan Dempster-less Chicago Cubs. Clayton Kershaw was phenomenal on the mound against the Cubs that resulted in a 3-1 victory as they continued to keep pace with the NL West leading San Francisco Giants.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Cubs starter Chris Volstad traded pitches like two heavyweight fighters trading blows in the main events for the first three innings. Both pitchers were sharp and refuse to allow the other team to strike first. However in the top of the fourth inning the Cubs would strike, with Darwin Barney on second, slugger Alfonso Soriano took Kershaw deep to left center that scored Barney and gave the Cubs the 1-0 lead. Kershaw maintained his poise as he ended the inning with a fly out from Welington Castillo.
The bottom of the fourth the Dodgers would come alive and response with an incredible single to right field by Mark Ellis. With a gleam in his eye and power in his bat, Matt Kemp stepped up to the plate and took Volstad deep to right field just over the wall for a 2-run home run, that gave the Dodgers the 2-1 lead. That was Kemp’s 16th home run of the season and 41st RBI.
“I thought it was going to be a home run, but you never know in this ballpark,” said Kemp. “It’s tough to hit home runs at night here, and after looking at it on the Jumbotron, I think I got a little bit of help. But we won, so it really doesn’t matter.”
Things began to cool off offensively for both ball clubs, however the intensity continued between both Kershaw and Volstad well into the eight inning. This game would prove to come down to one thing, which team would finish with the hottest bat.
In the bottom of the eight inning, newly acquired Dodger Shane Victorino hit a big double to center field. After the intentional walk to Kemp, Andre Either responded with a single to second that caught Kemp out at second base. With runners on the corners Hanley Ramirez delivered a timely RBI single to shortstop, and made safely to first base thanks to a throwing error by Starlin Castro. Victorino scored the insurance run as the Dodgers led 3-1.
It was Jansen time in the ninth inning as reliever Kenley Jansen, as he easily struck out Soriano and struck out Brian LaHair looking to end the game, as the Dodgers held on to the 3-1 victory. Jansen picked up his 21st save on the season.
Clayton Kershaw (9-6) picked up the victory and spoke about his performance, “the curveball wasn’t very good tonight and I didn’t throw a lot of strikes with it, but fortunately I had a decent slider. They [Cubs] came out aggressively and were putting the ball in play early.”
Kershaw pitched seven solid innings, gave up one run, three hits and seven strike outs with a 2.88 ERA.
Cubs starter Chris Volstad (0-8) who was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday after starters Ryan Dempster and Paul Mahom were dealt in trades picks up the loss. He pitched seven innings, gave up two runs on six hits, and still winless int he major leagues.
The Dodgers still remain just 1/2 game back of the first place San Francisco Giants after their victory against the Colorado Rockies.
The Dodgers go for the sweep of the Cubs on Sunday as the Dodgers send new acquired pitcher Joe Blanton against Justin Germano on Sunday.
On a night where it seems that the Los Angeles Dodgers were facing the biggest rival health with their players that included Juan Rivera and now Matt Kemp.
Kemp was placed on the 15 day DL, Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers would have to continue to fight without their premier warrior.
On the other side of the ball, Arizona D-backs pitcher and 2011 Cy Young runner up Ian Kennedy had something to prove against Kershaw, and to remind him how he never forgot how he should’ve won that prestigious award.
Kershaw got out of the first inning rather quickly making way for the Dodger bats to light up hard and fast, as the speedy Dee Gordon singled to left, and thanks to a throwing error by Kennedy, Gordon made it safe to third base. Mark Ellis grounded out to second, but it allowed Gordon to score as the Dodgers took the lead 1-0.
For the next several innings Kershaw was masterful, showing Kennedy and others why he was the Cy Young winner and still a force to be reckoned with on the mound. Frustrating Arizona batters, Kershaw was virtually untouchable, and so was the Dodger offense in the bottom of the sixth inning, Andre Either smacked a solo home run to right center, as Kennedy watched and pounded his glove in disgust. Catcher AJ Ellis singled to center, then James Loney singled that advanced Ellis to third base.
Adam Kennedy stepped up and hit a key sacrifice fly to center that scored Ellis.
Kennedy threw a pitch behind Kershaw and to the backstop before he walked. Kershaw returned the favor in the fifth inning, making Kennedy bail out of the batter’s box on a first-pitch fastball before he walked him.
After pitching seven strong innings, Josh Lindblom relieved Clayton Kershaw who left the field amongst cheers and applause from the Dodger Stadium crowd.
Lindblom was pretty solid, until he gave up a solo home run to Arizona’s Aaron Hill deep to left field that would prove to be the D-backs only run of the game. Lindblom settled down and go out of the inning with any further damage.
Kenley Jensen came in for Lindblom to close out the game, and did an exceptional job, especially getting R Roberts to pop out at first base to end the game, as the Dodgers defeated the D-backs 3-1. Jensen picked up his fourth save in five attempts on the season.
Matt Kemp talked about how he felt about not playing “I’m disappointed. This is my second time being on the DL, and the first time was a long time ago [April 2007]. I like playing every game, but I’ve got to be healthy and playing at 100 percent for me to be effective. So I’ve got to let it heal.”
Kemp is still on course for his goal of 50/50, and should win the NL MVP award this season, as he’ll continue to play at a high level once he returns from injury.
Kershaw talked about the warning by Umpire after the incident between him and Kennedy, “Old-school baseball’s one thing, and I understand what the manager’s trying to instill over there, but there’s no place for that here. It’s obvious what they were trying to do, but I don’t agree with what they did. It just felt wrong. He’s a good pitcher, he had an awesome year last year and I have a lot of respect for what he does on the hill. But if that’s how they want to do it, that’s fine. He missed anyway, so no big deal.”
Tuesday night did not prove well for the Dodgers as they placed both their potential NL MVP Matt Kemp on the 15 day DL and Juan Uribe for a wrist injury. Chad Billingsley had the tall task of continuing the home streak at Dodgers Stadium against Wade Miley and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Billingsley looked pretty well on the mound until the second inning with the bases loaded and two outs, Gerardo Parra walked that scored Jason Kubel and advanced A Hill to third base. Billingsley got Willie Bloomquist to fly out to center to end the inning.
Miley continued to pitch solid, and the Diamondback offense made sure they gave him plenty of run support, unfortunately at the expense of Billingsley where Arizona exploded in the fifth inning. Bloomquist singled to left, that moved Wade Miley to third base. Justin Upton reached on infield single to shortstop that scored pitcher Wade Miley, Bloomquist and Parra moved to third and second base respectfully. Then Miguel Montero singled to center, which scored Parra, and Dodger manager Don Mattingly had obviously seen enough. He retired Billingsley for the evening and sent in Javy Guerra, which didn’t cool off the D-back bats, as Kubel hit an RBI single to right field, that scored Bloomquist.
It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Dodgers finally got on the board, as Mark Ellis hit a solo home run deep to center scoring what would end up being their only run scored. The Dodgers defense did make a showing as outfielder Andre Either made a spectacular diving catch to rob Upton of a hit.
However in the top of the seventh the D-backs weren’t done scoring either Lyle Overbay hit a big sacrifice fly to left field, that scored Montero to increase the lead 5-1. Arizona came into the game 6-for-30 in bases-loaded situations.
Arizona closer JJ Putz came in for reliever David Hernandez after he allowed Adam Kennedy to double to right field, setting up Dee Gordon. With two outs, Putz got Gorden to foul out to the catcher for the final out and captured the victory over the Dodgers.
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson spoke about his solid pitcher Wade Miley “He just did a great job for us, and that’s what we needed tonight. He had 72 strikes out of 102 pitches. He maybe started laboring a little bit later in the game, but it was big for him to get as far as he did for us. That’s how he’s been pitching all year.”
Chad Billingsley went four innings, eight hits and three strike out and hasn’t picked up a win since that Astros 12-0 blowout in Houston. Wade Miley pitched six and two-third strong innings allowed eight hits, five strikeouts, and one home run.
The Dodgers are currently 24-12 and still lead the rival San Francisco Giants by six game in the NL West division.
*1988 Dodgers Cy Young Award winner and World Series MVP Orel Hershiser threw out a ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium, as it was also Hershiser bobble head night.
*Scott Van Slyke son of former MLB slugger Andy Van Slyke, made his debut in the starting line up for the first time on Tuesday night.