LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers had hit a little patch of listlessness, their offense in a funk and their fielding borderline embarrassing.
But you don’t count out a team with Clayton Kershaw, who could be back on a major league mound within two weeks. Not when he’s backed up like this. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke and Dan Haren have all pitched like aces in Kershaw’s absence, allowing the Dodgers to power on through choppy water.
The three veterans have given the Dodgers everything Kershaw would have, with the key exception of length.
How it happened: The Dodgers had played three extra-inning games in eight days and their bullpen was as taxed as any in baseball. Closer Kenley Jansen, for example, leads the majors with 15 appearances.
Greinke did what you want your de-facto ace to do, he restored order in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium. Using his usual palette of different speeds and locations, he had the Phillies guessing and off-balance all night.
Greinke (4-0) struck out 11 batters over seven innings, holding the Phillies to five hits. He took the mound in the eighth inning, but didn't stay there long, chased by a home run from pinch hitter Jayson Nix.
Hits: It seems only fair to grant Matt Kemp a little leeway to get his timing down after missing so many games the past couple of seasons. But now would be a good time for him to get in gear if he wants to establish himself as the everyday player he says he is. Kemp entered the game batting .196, but was the only early signs of offense against Cole Hamels, smacking doubles in his first two at-bats and scoring the Dodgers’ first run.
Misses: It seemed as though Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was talking about Hanley Ramirez when he said of the team's overall weak fielding before the game, “Your range is your range, but you can always be in the right spot. To be a solid defensive player, all you have to do is want to be that.” It continues to be a struggle at shortstop for Ramirez. He contributed to the Phillies’ run in the fourth inning. He had a clear shot at Jimmy Rollins at third base after fielding Chase Utley's grounder, but elected to take the easy out at first. Rollins scored seconds later on Ryan Howard's single into left field. On the other hand, Ramirez's bat finally got going. He doubled and homered (deep to center) in his last two at-bats.
Stat of the game: Greinke has worked five innings or more and allowed two runs or fewer in 17 consecutive starts. He's the first to have done that since modern record-keeping began in 1914.
Up next: The Dodgers complete the four-game series with the Phillies on Thursday night at 7:10 p.m., Dan Haren (3-2, 2.16 ERA) pitching for the Dodgers opposite Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 3.60).