LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers snapped a two-game losing streak behind their ace, Clayton Kershaw, who pitched without much of a safety net in a 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.
How it happened: For most of the game, the Dodgers offense continued its sluggish ways at home, which meant Kershaw (6-2) had to concentrate hard on every pitch. In fact, when Paul Goldschmidt lined a shot to center field with a runner on base in the seventh inning, it looked like all his hard work might have been for naught, but Andre Ethier was standing right there to catch it. Kershaw has never fared particularly well against Arizona and he got hit around in his previous start against the Diamondbacks, but he doesn’t take failure lightly and found a way to bounce back.
Brian Wilson had a rough eighth inning and nearly blew a two-run lead, but J.P. Howell, one of the game's underrated relievers, came in and bailed the Dodgers out of a two-on, one-out jam. Arizona also had action in the ninth, scoring a run, butKenley Jansen got out of it.
Hits: Moving Matt Kemp to left field created a more negative storyline in part because Kemp happened to be slumping at the time. Overall, he has not been productive at a position at which you expect one of your premium offensive players. Kemp’s .658 OPS as a left fielder ranked 34th in the National League entering Friday’s game, but Kemp did the kind of thing he used to do with frequency -- sent a soaring home run to center field -- in the second inning. He also had a sharp single and a bad-luck groundout. More of that from Kemp, or from any of the other slumping middle-of-the-order bats, could go a long way to moving the Dodgers along, at last.
Misses: Quietly, Yasiel Puig has cooled off considerably, which was probably to be expected considering he hit .398 in May. Puig is four for his past 26 (.154) with one extra-base hit, a double, in his past seven games. He nearly hit a slicing home run to right Friday, but it hooked foul. He struck out twice. Puig is entitled to cool off. The hitters around him, such as Kemp, need to make sure the Dodgers score enough runs now that Puig has become human again.
Stat of the game: Kemp’s home run snapped the second-longest home run drought of his career (101 plate appearances). The longest was in 2006-07 (139).