Dodgers Report: Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 4, Giants 2

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14

SAN FRANCISCO -- After trading blowouts in the most anticipated series of the year, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants returned to what they most frequently do when they meet. They fought each other hand to hand for nine innings.

But the Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw, which means they normally win those fights. Their ace went eight strong innings again to become the majors’ first 19-game winner in a 4-2 Dodgers win that padded their NL West lead to three games with 13 left.

How it happened: The Giants battled Kershaw in their at-bats and drove his pitch count up, so he was in jeopardy of having his streak of going at least eight innings snapped at six. Then he talked his way into staying on the mound in the eighth and cruised, striking out Buster Posey and quickly dispatching Joe Panik and Hunter Pence. The Dodgers used a couple of singles and a couple of Giants errors to score two runs in the second inning, but the game was tense until Matt Kemp launched a high, two-run homer to left-center field in the sixth inning.

Hits: Given the standard he set in 2011, Kemp’s season has been widely viewed as a bit of a disappointment. And yet his home run was his 20th and the RBIs were his 73rd and 74th. That means he has tied Posey in home runs and is just 10 behind him in RBIs, and Posey is viewed as a league MVP candidate. Since the All-Star break, Kemp has been the Dodgers’ most dangerous hitter, tallying 12 of his home runs.

Misses: It’s not often that a catcher will work a night game and then catch the following afternoon, but A.J. Ellis and Kershaw are a tandem. That meant the Dodgers’ No. 1 catcher went another tiring nine innings. He has started seven of the Dodgers’ past eight games, a reflection of the time of the season. Ellis might be wearing down. He drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, but had another oh-fer day at the plate. Late as it is, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly might want to mix in a day off here or there for Ellis to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

Stat of the game: Kershaw went into Sunday’s start with a 0.32 edge over Chris Sale for the major league ERA title. If he wins it, and it’s hard to imagine he won’t, he would be the first pitcher ever to win four straight major league ERA titles. Sandy Koufax led the National League five straight seasons but was edged out by the Angels’ Dean Chance in 1964.

Up next: The Dodgers head to Colorado for a three-game series with the Rockies. Roberto Hernandez (8-11, 4.04 ERA) goes for the Dodgers opposite Christian Bergman (2-3, 4.89) in a 5:40 p.m. PT game on Monday.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 17, Giants 0

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers took out all of their frustrations from the previous night and then a little bit more.

They set an AT&T Park record in a 17-0 pounding of the San Francisco Giants Saturday night that evened the series at a game apiece and guaranteed they’ll get out of town in first place. No opponent had ever scored so many runs in this 14-year-old stadium, a cool-weather pitchers' park.

The Dodgers lead the Giants by two games with 14 left.

How it happened: By the time the pitcher’s spot in the Giants’ lineup came up, Tim Hudson was long gone, the Dodgers had scored nine runs on 11 hits and Matt Kemp had three run-scoring hits. That was a lot more than Zack Greinke (15-8) needed. In fact, Greinke himself provided all the offense he needed with a long double and a two-run home run. The Dodgers set season highs in hits (24, one shy of the L.A. record) and runs. It was a welcome bit of stress relief after Friday night’s 9-0 Giants beatdown, in which pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu left with a shoulder injury.

Hits: One happy coincidence for the Dodgers is that their two best starting pitchers match up well with their biggest rival. Greinke can’t quite equal Clayton Kershaw’s lengthy track record of dominance over the Giants, but he’s starting to move in that direction. In six career starts against the Giants, Greinke is 4-0 with a 1.97 ERA. Three of those wins have come this season, and Greinke has one more start remaining against San Francisco.

Misses: Things appeared to get a little chippy, unnecessarily, in the third inning. As usual, Yasiel Puig was in the middle of everything. He was awarded first base after a Tim Lincecum pitch was deemed to have grazed his right elbow. When Adrian Gonzalez hit a slow roller to Joe Panik, Puig slid well off the bag in an effort to take out Brandon Crawford and break up the double play. He succeeded, but Crawford seemed to glare at him as Puig walked slowly back to the Dodgers’ dugout. The teams’ tempers will bear watching in the final four head-to-head games of the season.

Snapshot: There was a legacy moment in the seventh inning involving the sons of three former major league players. Scott Van Slyke, son of Andy, homered off Brett Bochy, son of Bruce, scoring Dee Gordon, son of Tom.

Up next: Kershaw (18-3) tries to become the majors’ first 19-game winner in the series finale at 1:10 p.m. PT. The Dodgers will face Yusmeiro Petit (5-3, 3.62).

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 9, Padres 4

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw’s season for the ages continued its relentless march and got the Los Angeles Dodgers another half-step closer to the playoffs.

With the second-place San Francisco Giants idle, Kershaw became the first pitcher in the majors to reach the 18-win mark, and the Dodgers clobbered the San Diego Padres 9-4 on Monday night. They now lead the NL West by 3 1/2 games with 18 left, including three this weekend in San Francisco.

How it happened: The first time the Dodgers faced Odrisamer Despaigne, their best line of defense was Kershaw, who outpitched the Padres rookie. This time, they had Kershaw -- and a more finely tuned offense. Despaigne was knocked out in the fifth inning. Juan Uribe and Carl Crawford homered, and the Dodgers gave their ace his first stress-free outing since early July. Kershaw (18-3) wasn’t at his most dominant, but he still cruised through eight innings in 89 pitches, struck out eight batters and allowed three hits. Seven of the first nine Padres batters were retired on ground balls. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pulled Kershaw shy of his seventh complete game, despite the manageable pitch count, likely with an eye to his final three regular-season starts, which will come on four days of rest. Two of those starts are against San Francisco.

Hits: Puig’s struggles since the end of July have forced Mattingly to continue to slide him down in the lineup. That could have created a void in the middle of the Dodgers’ order, but it has been obscured in part by hot hitting from Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Crawford. Kemp had an RBI double to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, a season high. Crawford clubbed a three-run homer and is 9-for-21 (.429) on this homestand. Gonzalez, who drove in six runs Sunday, walked and doubled. The Dodgers’ offense doesn’t have the sizzle it did in 2013 behind Puig and Hanley Ramirez, but it is more balanced, and that might be better in the long run.

Misses: Puig put one of his best swings on a pitch in weeks when he singled up the middle to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Ramirez had four hits (two bloopers) and two RBIs. That was the good news for two of the Dodgers’ key players. On the other hand, Puig and Ramirez had a play in the sixth inning that would have embarrassed some T-ball teams. After Puig caught Rene Rivera’s shallow fly ball, he tried to double up Rymer Liriano off first base, but he didn’t set his feet and skipped the throw past Gonzalez and off the railing of the Padres dugout. A.J. Ellis picked it up and threw it into center field, where Ramirez retrieved it and chucked it 20 feet wide of home plate. The comedy of errors resulted in two unearned runs. When Kershaw got the ball back, he disgustedly flipped it in the air to no one in particular, and the ball thudded in the dirt.

Stat of the game: Before that three-error play in the sixth inning, the Dodgers had made just two errors in their previous 91 innings, per Dodgers blogger Jon Weisman.

Up next: The series continues at 7:10 PT Tuesday with Roberto Hernandez (8-10, 4.00 ERA) pitching for the Dodgers and Andrew Cashner (2-7, 2.39) going for San Diego.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 4, Nationals 1

September, 2, 2014
Sep 2

LOS ANGELES -- When Clayton Kershaw walked off the mound Tuesday night, fans near the Los Angeles Dodgers' dugout and elsewhere chanted "MVP!" for the first time this season. They just might know what they're talking about.

With the Dodgers struggling a bit over the past week and the rival San Francisco Giants on a roll behind them, Kershaw was there to rescue his team again with a fairly routine dominance, at least by his standards. He shut down the National League-leading Washington Nationals, and the Dodgers got a 4-1 win to keep their division lead at two games with 23 left.

How it happened: Kershaw never looked threatened, with no base runner reaching second base until Bryce Harper caught a low, 94-mph fastball and cranked it into the right-center stands in the seventh inning. It wasn't Kershaw at his most dominant, but it was another step on the MVP path: eight innings, three hits, one run, eight strikeouts. He has four or, possibly, five more starts to pick up three wins and reach the 20-win mark despite missing six weeks with a back injury.

The Dodgers benefited from a comedy of errors by Washington infielders during a strange fifth inning. It looked like Kershaw had picked the wrong outfielder to run on when Bryce Harper’s throw from center field appeared to beat him to third, but Anthony Rendon inexplicably threw to second and Dee Gordon slid headfirst under Asdrubal Cabrera’s tag. Later, when Adrian Gonzalez hit a slow roller to shortstop Ian Desmond, Desmond bobbled it and then threw it over catcher Wilson Ramos’ head to allow two runs to score.

Juan Uribe later jumped on Doug Fister’s first pitch to him in the sixth inning and clubbed a two-run home run.

Hits: Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt deserves some credit for spacing out the rotation so Kershaw will pitch in the Dodgers’ biggest games this month. After facing the San Diego Padres on Sept. 8, two of Kershaw’s next three starts will come against the Giants. And if the teams haven’t decided the division by Sept. 28, Kershaw would be lined up to pitch in a one-game playoff the next day, or a wild-card game the following day. That’s a pretty good safety net.

Misses: The Dodgers got away with some questionable baserunning decisions because of Washington’s sloppiness, but not all of them. Matt Kemp got thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on Carl Crawford’s bunt single in the fourth inning. Fister fielded the ball and threw it away. Kemp broke for him even though the ball never reached the outfield grass. It was a costly mistake as the Dodgers would have had first-and-third with nobody out, instead of a man at first with an out. They didn’t score.

Stat of the game: Kershaw is unbeaten in his past 19 starts against NL East opponents, going 15-0.

Up next: The series continues with a rare midweek day game at Dodger Stadium. Carlos Frias (0-0, 5.65 ERA) will make his first start for the Dodgers after eight relief appearances. He’ll be opposed by Washington ace Jordan Zimmerman (10-5, 2.93) in a game that starts at 12:10 p.m. PT.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 7, Padres 1

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31

SAN DIEGO -- Their bats finally warmed up after 29 innings in a deep freeze, and the Los Angeles Dodgers managed to avoid a costly sweep with a 7-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon.

The San Francisco Giants kept the heat on the Dodgers by winning their sixth game in a row, but the Dodgers were able to maintain a 2½-game lead in the NL West going into the season’s final month.

How it happened: Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-6) pitched seven strong innings after being activated from the disabled list before the game. But good pitching hasn’t been the problem here. Instead, big hits have been in short supply. The Dodgers finally got plenty of those during a four-run eighth inning that blew the game open and ended nearly three days of frustration at Petco Park. Juan Uribe stroked an RBI single to right and Darwin Barney drove in two more by going the other way, too. Entering the eighth, the Dodgers were 1-for-20 with runners in scoring position and had scored just four runs in 29 innings during the series.

Hits: Matt Kemp’s power is back, and it has given the Dodgers a major lift with Hanley Ramirez in and out of the lineup and Yasiel Puig struggling. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of Kemp getting healthier, which suggests he could have further room for improvement, a tantalizing possibility. On this road trip, Kemp is 8-for-20 with three doubles, a home run and five RBIs. The Dodgers needed someone to step up and help them emerge from their offensive funk here, and Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez (4-for-5) did so. Kemp had an RBI single and a ringing double off the left-field wall.

Misses: Puig is lost. The box score credits him with a double, but that was a soaring fly ball to right field that both the second baseman and right fielder lost in the sun. Puig has completely abandoned the patient approach that helped him so much in May and is swinging at virtually everything. He struck out on a breaking ball in the dirt in the fifth inning and another breaking ball in the eighth, then hit another fly ball to right in the third. Puig’s batting average has quietly slipped under .300 for the first time since May 1. He hit .212 with just two extra-base hits in August. His confidence is a major issue for this team going into September. Perhaps he can flip the switch as he has done in previous months?

Stat of the game: The reason the Dodgers decided to use Ryu on Sunday rather than waiting until Monday -- when they wouldn’t need to make a roster move -- is that Ryu came into the game with a 2-0 record and 0.47 ERA against the Padres this season. Now, he’s 3-0 with a 0.69 ERA. Not too shabby.

Up next: The Dodgers open a three-game series against the first-place Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on Monday evening at 5:10 PT. Roberto Hernandez (2-1, 3.52 ERA) goes for the Dodgers, while Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 3.86) takes the mound for Washington.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 3, D'backs 1

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27

PHOENIX -- Clayton Kershaw kept his MVP campaign marching along quite steadily.

Kershaw (16-3) became the majors’ first 16-game winner -- though he missed six weeks with an injury -- and the Dodgers won for the fifth time in their past six games by defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 on Wednesday night.

How it happened: Kershaw wasn’t at his most dominant in the early innings, but he stabilized and pitched eight strong innings in one of his least favorite stadiums. Kershaw hasn’t pitched fewer than seven innings since June 8, and that game was cut short by rain. He came into Wednesday with a 4.10 ERA at Chase Field and had allowed seven runs in 1 2/3 innings the most recent time he pitched here, in May. Wednesday he reversed that mojo by striking out 10 batters and holding Arizona to an unearned run on six hits. He lowered his ERA to 1.73.

The Dodgers rallied for all their runs off Wade Miley in the third inning. Scott Van Slyke homered the inning before spraining his right ankle while playing left field.

Hits: Matt Kemp is slugging .120 points higher since the All-Star break than he did before it. The Dodgers also feel like he’s running better and playing better defense. Whether the uptick is a simple matter of improving health or increasing confidence, the Dodgers aren’t asking too many questions. Kemp sliced a two-run double to right-center field and was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple. He has eight doubles and eight of his 16 home runs since the break.

Misses: The Dodgers are sticking with the plan of inserting Miguel Rojas into games for the eighth and ninth innings in order to give themselves better shortstop defense. That will give Hanley Ramirez fewer at-bats in these final five weeks of the regular season. So far, he hasn’t exactly come off the disabled list on a roll. Ramirez has one hit and five strikeouts in 12 at-bats. The Dodgers will give him time to get his timing back, but it’s not an easy thing to do given the defensive sacrifice they’re making.

Stat of the game: For the second year in a row, the Dodgers are leading the majors in road winning percentage (.618). Before 2013, it had happened just four times (1962, 1963, 1974 and 1985) since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958.

Up next: The Dodgers have Thursday off before starting a three-game series in San Diego Friday night.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 9, D-backs 5

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26

PHOENIX – The Los Angeles Dodgers continued their demolition job on the bottom-feeding teams in the NL West -- a pretty good method for reaching the playoffs -- on Tuesday.

They defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5, which gives Los Angeles 11 wins in 15 games against the Diamondbacks this year. They are 9-4 against both the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies, which means they’re playing .707 baseball against the three worst teams in their division.

The San Francisco Giants also won, which means the Dodgers remain five games up in the NL West.

How it happened: Roberto Hernandez wasn’t particularly sharp, judging by the five baserunners he allowed in the first two innings and the constant trouble he dodged, but he trudged through six innings and managed to confine the damage to three runs. Arizona tied it 2-2 in the second inning on Ender Inciarte’s two-run single, but the Dodgers staged a long fourth inning, bunched five straight singles and knocked Trevor Cahill out of the game.

Hits: It might be difficult for Andre Ethier to take, given that he’s the odd man out virtually every game, but the Dodgers seem to have found the right alignment of outfielders. Yasiel Puig has settled in and played strong defense in center field, for the most part, and everybody is hitting to varying extents. Crawford stayed hot with two hits and ignited the Dodgers’ big fourth inning with an RBI single to left. Kemp hit a two-run home run in the first inning to get the team off to a fast start, and Puig walked twice. Scratch one item (at least for now) off manager Don Mattingly’s things-to-stress-about list.

Misses: Hanley Ramirez is a big addition to the Dodgers’ lineup, but only if he hits. He snapped an 0-for-7 skid since his return from the disabled list when he hit a fly ball to left field that landed safely between the third baseman and left fielder, so maybe that will ignite him. He also had a nifty glove flip to nearly start a double play, but it’s well-documented that he’s not the Dodgers’ best defensive option at shortstop. How Ramirez performs these final weeks are crucial to his future and crucial to the Dodgers’ postseason fortunes.

Stat of the game: The most recent time Clayton Kershaw pitched at Chase Field, he -- amazingly -- allowed seven earned runs and was yanked in the second inning. That was back in mid-May and was just Kershaw's third start since coming off the disabled list.

Up next: If you remove that start from Kershaw’s season, he has a 1.42 ERA -- Bob Gibson-type stuff. He can’t remove it, of course, but he can make everybody forget about it with a good outing Wednesday night. Kershaw (15-3, 1.82 ERA) will be opposed by Arizona’s Wade Miley (7-9, 4.29) in a rematch of Opening Day. The game begins at 6:40 p.m. PT.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 2, Padres 1

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21

LOS ANGELES -- The bubbles were floating out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ dugout way before Justin Turner hopped down the steps. When he got there, the party really roared to life, the players bobbing and dancing around Turner.

The Dodgers continued to celebrate their home runs in their own unique style, with their in-dugout bubble machine, and this was probably the most rollicking one yet. Turner’s two-run home run in the eighth inning of the team’s 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday evening may have been the biggest hit of the Dodgers season thus far.

It made a winner of ace Clayton Kershaw -– who was certainly deserving in another dominant performance –- and kept the San Francisco Giants from creeping closer in the race for the NL West. The Dodgers, in fact, gained a half-game and now lead by 3 1/2.

How it happened: Kershaw, who entered the game with a 1.86 ERA, locked up in a brilliant pitchers’ duel with Tyson Ross, who came in with a 2.70 ERA. The matchup lived up to its billing, and more. Both lineups were unplugged, though in different fashions. Ross relied on the ground ball, piling up nine outs with them, while Kershaw was his normal dominating self. Neither team scored until fatigue began to creep up on both pitchers by the late innings.

Hits: There wasn’t much more Kershaw could have done to bring this one home. He struck out 10 batters over eight innings and gave up only three hits, the first of which came off Ross’ bat with two outs in the sixth inning. Kershaw breezed through the first five innings, giving the game a lively pace. Kershaw (15-3) had won 10 straight decisions until taking a loss Saturday. He got back on track Thursday to keep his Cy Young and MVP candidacies in good stead.

Misses: Kershaw can’t do it alone. He got tagged with the loss Saturday, even though he gave up only five hits (two home runs) and pitched a complete game. The Dodgers' offense needs to heat up now that the starting rotation is wobbling under the weight of injuries. Instead, it has been in a funk for the most part. The Dodgers have scored three runs or fewer in six of their last eight games. Ross is a very good pitcher, but he hardly had to work Thursday, cruising through his first six innings in only 63 pitches.

Stat of the game: Before Thursday, the Dodgers were 0-46 when trailing after seven innings. They're now 1-46.

Up next: The Dodgers open a three-game series with the New York Mets on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. Dan Haren (10-10, 4.59 ERA) goes for the Dodgers opposite Jonathon Niese (7-8, 3.50).

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 8, Padres 6

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19

LOS ANGELES -- With injuries beginning to tatter the Los Angeles Dodgers' pitching staff, the bats bought them a little breathing room with an 8-6 win over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.

How it happened: Normally, when the Dodgers and Padres play, somebody usually wins 1-0 or 2-1. Tuesday looked more like a game played at Wrigley Field or one of the other extreme hitter's parks. The teams kept going back and forth, with few pitchers capable of keeping a lead safe. In his second start for the Dodgers, Kevin Correia looked a lot more like the guy with the 4.94 ERA that he'd been in Minnesota than the guy who pitched six four-hit innings in his Dodgers debut. Correia lasted five innings, giving up four runs and nine hits.

But the Dodgers had little trouble with Ian Kennedy, brushing aside a 3-0 first-inning deficit and continuing to pile on runs throughout the game. It was an encouraging sign that the Dodgers have the offense to weather this steady stream of injuries to their pitchers. Carl Crawford had an RBI single, a two-run home run and scored three runs.

Hits: According to Baseball Reference, Justin Turner (2.7 WAR) is the Dodgers' second-most valuable position player after Yasiel Puig (4.1). That seems a bit extreme, but Turner probably gets nowhere near the credit he deserves this season. He has excelled in virtually every role the Dodgers have asked of him. He has played solid defense at three positions. As a pinch hitter, he is batting .409. With runners in scoring position, he is batting .383. Since May 11, he's hitting .361 with 11 doubles and 22 RBIs. Normally, you would argue that Juan Uribe is a significant loss, but Turner has made it a lot easier to forget about him now that Uribe is on the disabled list again. Turner ripped two RBI doubles off Kennedy.

Misses: In some ways, A.J. Ellis is more valuable than ever. The Dodgers need all the help they can get now that injuries are starting to ravage their pitching depth. Since his major league debut in 2008, Ellis has the lowest catcher's ERA (3.32) in the major leagues. On the other hand, Ellis has become close to an automatic out in the lineup. He had a sacrifice fly but is now 1-for-9 on the homestand. His batting average is .186 and he has only one home run and 12 RBIs.

Stat of the game: The Dodgers are 33-18 against teams in the NL West this season. Last year, they were 37-39.

Up next: The series continues Wednesday, with Roberto Hernandez (7-8, 3.72 ERA) making his third Dodgers start since a trade from the Philadelphia Phillies and the Padres going with lefty Eric Stults (5-13, 4.64). The game starts at 7:10 p.m. PT.

Rapid Reaction: Brewers 7, Dodgers 2

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17

LOS ANGELES -- What already was set up as a salvage job for the Los Angeles Dodgers quickly devolved into more wreckage, as the visiting Milwaukee Brewers completed a three-game weekend sweep Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.

Milwaukee scored in each of the first four innings, and a Dodgers lineup without Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe couldn’t answer.

How it happened: Dodgers starter Dan Haren (10-10) walked Carlos Gomez on five pitches to start the contest, then four pitches later saw Jonathan Lucroy rip an 86 mph cutter deep into the left-field bleachers. Lucroy doubled home three more an inning later.

Hits: While the benefits are mitigated at least somewhat by Monday’s off day, Carlos Frias -- who relieved Haren starting the fourth -- kept Sunday’s loss from destroying the bullpen. Frias lasted four innings and allowed only one hit, a home run by Gomez on the second pitch he threw. Justin Turner and Darwin Barney, filling in for Uribe and Ramirez, respectively, each reached base twice.

Misses: Haren, who followed a bad June with a catastrophic July, had generated some degree of optimism over his past two starts, allowing only three earned runs during 13 1/3 innings in consecutive wins over the Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta Braves. On Sunday, however, the Dodgers hurt Haren with bad defense, with a second-inning error by Adrian Gonzalez leading to three unearned runs. But the Brewers hit Haren hard throughout his three innings of work. Haren also walked three, compounding his problems.

The Dodgers’ offense didn’t exactly come to Haren’s rescue, either, registering only five hits over six innings against Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta (15-7) and no runs until long after the game was decided. Overall, Los Angeles was 2-10 with runners in scoring position.

Stat of the game: .500. That’s L.A.’s record at Chavez Ravine, the worst home record among teams currently occupying playoff spots. The bad news: Fifteen of their next 20 are at home. The good news: Twelve of those 15 are against teams entering Sunday seven games under .500 (New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks). In theory, at least, something’s got to give.

Up next: The Dodgers open a three-game set against San Diego on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. The Padres will send out Ian Kennedy (9-10, 3.54), who on July 12 shut out L.A. over eight innings in a game the Dodgers eventually won 1-0, to face Kevin Correia, making his second start since being acquired from Atlanta on Aug. 9.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 6, Braves 4

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
ATLANTA -- It’s a shame the Dodgers can’t get a deal done with many of the TV distributors in Southern California, because this team does most of its finest work when it hits the road.

The Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 6-4 Thursday afternoon at Turner Field to improve their road record to 40-26, easily the best in the majors. With just two road trips left, the Dodgers have yet to have a losing journey from Dodger Stadium.

How it happened: General manager Ned Colletti is looking wise lately. The two pitchers he acquired after the non-waiver deadline have been sharp. Roberto Hernandez made his second straight good start Thursday and Kevin Correia is standing by if the Dodgers need a replacement for injured Hyun-Jin Ryu. Hernandez allowed just three hits and a run over six innings, keeping the Braves in their slump.

Aaron Harang has been pitching well lately, except when he faces his former team. The Dodgers have jumped him for nine earned runs and 14 hits in the 10 1/3 innings he has lasted against them this season. Drew Butera blasted a two-run home run in the second inning and Adrian Gonzalez had a couple of RBI singles.

Hits: If you rule Clayton Kershaw out because he is a starting pitcher, the Dodgers’ only remotely viable candidates for league MVP all had good days. Dee Gordon scored three more runs (giving him 66) and stole two bases (giving him 54) and manufactured a run. Adrian Gonzalez drove in his 81st and 82nd runs. Yasiel Puig had three hits to raise his average to .310. OK, let’s be honest. Kershaw is the Dodgers’ only hope of landing an MVP award, but those three are as important to the Dodgers’ offense as anyone.

Misses: It’s going to be virtually impossible for Andre Ethier to earn back a starting outfield spot unless someone gets hurt. Getting just his fourth start this month, Ethier went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and inning-ending double play. Meanwhile, Carl Crawford batted .448 on the road trip. Considering Scott Van Slyke normally starts against left-handed pitchers, Ethier -- making $15.5 million this season -- has become the fifth outfielder.

Stat of the game: The Braves held Puig hitless the previous two games, but that was an anomaly. He was 3-for-4 Thursday and, including the postseason, is batting .452 in his career against Atlanta. In 14 games against the Braves, those were the only two hitless ones.

Up next: The Dodgers open a nine-game homestand with a weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Friday night Zack Greinke (12-8, 2.84 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers against Jimmy Nelson (2-3, 4.00) in a game that starts at 7:10 p.m.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 6, Braves 2

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11

ATLANTA – The Dodgers continued to pad what has become the biggest division lead in the National League by beating a team they've come to master.

They beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 Monday night at Turner Field to extend their lead over the San Francisco Giants to five games. The Dodgers struggled against the Braves last season, going 2-5, but starting with October's National League Division Series, they are 8-2 against Atlanta.

How it happened: Kevin Correia joined the Dodgers here Monday after a trade from the Minnesota Twins, who were playing in Oakland at the time. He said hello to a former teammate, Brian Wilson, and then went out and ingratiated himself with his new teammates by pitching six strong innings. The Braves could manage only one run against Correia, on Justin Upton's RBI single in the fourth inning. Correia allowed four hits and a walk while striking out five Braves. A career .115 hitter coming straight from the American League, he also had two hits.

The Dodgers were facing one of the better pitchers in the National League, Julio Teheran, and they didn't make any headway until the sixth, when they bunched four consecutive singles to score a run. Carl Crawford had an infield single to bring in another, and Ramiro Pena bobbled a perfect double-play ball to allow the third run to score.

Hits: Someone asked manager Don Mattingly before the game why he starts Crawford over Andre Ethier in left field. Crawford, after all, entered Monday batting .239. That brought out the former hitting coach in Mattingly, who said Crawford was swinging the bat as well as any Dodgers hitter before he missed six weeks with a sprained ankle and that he has hit balls harder than his recent numbers suggest. Crawford also brings more speed to the table. Mattingly’s explanation made more sense five hours later. Crawford went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Ethier probably wouldn't have beaten out the infield hit that led to another run.

Misses: The Braves' middle infield is getting a bit stretched. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was out with an ankle injury and Tommy La Stella left the game in the second inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. The replacements, Emilio Bonifacio and Pena, did not have good nights. Bonifacio threw the ball away on a double-play ball, disrupted by a Justin Turner slide, and Pena dropped Turner's easy double-play ball in the sixth.

Stat of the game: Including last October's playoffs, Yasiel Puig is batting .510 with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and eight RBIs in 49 career at-bats against the Braves.

Up next: The series continues Tuesday, with Dan Haren (9-9, 4.57 ERA) going for the Dodgers and lefty Mike Minor (4-7, 5.42) pitching for the Braves. The game starts at 4:10 p.m. PT.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 5, Angels 4

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5

LOS ANGELES -- Mike Trout got the better of Clayton Kershaw in the two Southern California superstars' first regular-season head-to-head meeting, going 2-for-3. But Kershaw got the last laugh: He straightened out a rough outing and his Los Angeles Dodgers beat Trout's Los Angeles Angels 5-4 in front of more than 53,000 fans at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night.

Kershaw didn't pick up his 14th win, because Brian Wilson gave up an Albert Pujols home run the eighth inning. But the Dodgers won it in the bottom of the ninth when pinch hitter Andre Ethier slapped a ground ball to David Freese and Juan Uribe dislodged the ball from Chris Iannetta's mitt to score the winning run.

That evened the Freeway Series at one game each and gave the Dodgers a 2½-game lead over the second-place San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

How it happened: Kershaw was susceptible early and the Angels scored three runs on him in the first three innings, but his command showed up in the fourth and after that he was as dominant as usual. Trout had an infield single and a double off Kershaw, but Kershaw also struck him out on three pitches in the fifth. Six of Kershaw's seven strikeouts came in the fourth through seventh innings. Matt Kemp manufactured the go-ahead run in the sixth inning, reaching on an error, stealing second and going to third when Iannetta's throw trickled into center field. Kemp scored on Scott Van Slyke's sacrifice fly.

Hits: Uribe has a knack for the momentum-changing home run. He doesn't go deep often, but when he does, it usually means something. After a poor performance the night before, the Dodgers were in an early 2-0 hole when Uribe stepped to the plate in the second inning. He caught a hanging curveball and hit a towering drive well into the bleachers in left-center field to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. Uribe, 35, looks like a nice re-sign by Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti despite his advancing years. He's still playing good defense and batting .299. The home run was his first since July 8.

Misses: Adrian Gonzalez, who slumped through May and June, had a solid July, managing to drive in 21 runs despite hitting only two home runs. He batted .293. The Dodgers' No. 3 hitter has had a sluggish start to August, going 1-for-13. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly likes Gonzalez in the 3-hole because it gives him nearly ideal left-right balance in the top half of the lineup, but Gonzalez has performed more like a No. 5-type hitter most of this season. He continues to drive in runs, but he's getting on base at a low rate (.325).

Stat of the game: Since 1900, only two pitchers have ever completed a season with a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than the 10.00 mark that Kershaw had coming into the game: Brett Saberhagen (11.00) in 1994 and Cliff Lee (10.28) in 2010. Kershaw walked two batters and his ratio fell to 9.23, which is still well ahead of Sandy Koufax's best mark, 5.38 from 1965, the best for a Dodger until this season.

Up next: The four-game home-and-home series moves to Anaheim, with Dan Haren (8-9, 4.76 ERA) going for the Dodgers and Matt Shoemaker (9-3, 4.09) pitching for the Angels.

Rapid Reaction: Cubs 7, Dodgers 3

August, 3, 2014
Aug 3

LOS ANGELES -- From the start, Sunday’s rubber match between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers was a battle to see which team’s leaky pitching would crack first.

Both starters -- Josh Beckett for the Dodgers and Edwin Jackson for Chicago -- were suspect during the game. But where Jackson managed to make his way through, Beckett -- and the relievers behind him -- could not.

And the Dodgers lost the game 7-3 -- and the series, 2-1.

How it happened: The pitching was poor, but let’s start with the sticks. The Dodgers generated plenty of opportunities off Jackson -- who entered the game with a 5.79 ERA after allowing 25 earned runs in 30 July innings -- but couldn’t generate enough scoring. They squandered an opportunity to do real damage in their half of the first, and finished the day 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Hits: Justin Turner, playing second base on a rare day off for Dee Gordon, did his best impression of L.A.’s All-Star. He led off the game with a double, then singled and stole second in his next trip. Turner also ripped a ball to left in the bottom half of the fifth that was tracked down nicely by Cubs left fielder Chris Coghlan. But Turner did misread a scorching liner off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez in the first, thinking it would be caught by Cubs CF Ryan Sweeney and turning what should have been an RBI double into a very long single, costing the Dodgers at least a run. Better baserunning there and Turner scores, leaving Yasiel Puig on third and Gonzalez on second. Instead, the bases were loaded and Hanley Ramirez followed with a tailor-made 6-4-3 double-play ball, scoring Turner but limiting the Dodgers to one run in what could have been a bigger inning.

Matt Kemp’s renaissance continued, unabated. He was 2-for-4, including another home run, this time a solo shot to left-center in the sixth. It was his 13th of the season and fifth since July 29.

Misses: Only a few hours free of Saturday’s 12-inning, 279-minute affair during which Dodgers manager Don Mattingly employed five relievers, L.A. could have used a lengthy outing from Beckett. It didn’t happen. For the third time in three starts since returning from the disabled list on July 22, Beckett failed to finish the fifth inning. Sunday, he was in and out of trouble from the jump, putting runners on in three of the four innings he threw and driving up his pitch count. In the fifth, he allowed a leadoff double to opposing pitcher Jackson, then threw a flat 1-2 pitch to Coghlan, which was promptly deposited into the bleachers in left center for Coghlan’s sixth home run of the year.

Meanwhile, Brandon League gave up three walks, a hit and three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Final line for Beckett: Four innings, six hits, three walks, 94 pitches, three earned runs.

Stat of the game: 199. That’s the number of pitches Beckett has thrown over his last 8⅓ innings of work. Combined with Dan Haren’s catastrophic July (0-4, 9.47 ERA), the Dodgers are watching the back end of the rotation disintegrate.

Up next: On Monday, the Dodgers kick off a four-game home-and-home series against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium. Zack Greinke (12-6, 2.65), who went 6-2 in 13 starts with the Halos down the stretch in 2012 before signing that offseason with the Dodgers, faces fellow righty Garrett Richards (11-4, 2.74) in the 7:10 p.m. start.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 5, Cubs 2 (F/12)

August, 2, 2014
Aug 2

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers competed in Saturday’s game minus the services of three core players -- A.J. Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez and, especially important, Yasiel Puig, all of whom are nursing minor injuries.

And no disrespect to Drew Butera, Scott Van Slyke and Justin Turner -- who was making his 2014 first-base debut -- but their presence in the starting lineup makes the Dodgers closer to a JV squad than a World Series contender.

Well, the Chicago Cubs are a JV squad at full strength, meaning the Blue were essentially on even ground on their turf in a quest to be even the series before Sunday’s final.

They took their sweet time, but L.A.’s mission was eventually accomplished with a 5-2 victory in the 12th inning.

How it happened: Matt Kemp recently switched his walk-up music to Lionel Richie’s 1983 classic "All Night Long," among the all-time great party-starter songs that nobody wants to admit they like but everybody does. After three innings' worth of dormant bats, Kemp, like Richie, got the party started and crushed a home run to center to put the Dodgers up 2-1. His teammates, however, had seemingly no interest in a fiesta, forever, because their bats went largely and collectively cold from that point forward.

The Cubs eventually tied the game 2-2 in the seventh, and the score held until the 12th inning, when Dee Gordon slipped a two-out line drive up the middle, then stole second to put himself in scoring position. Turner then drew a full-count walk. And Hanley Ramirez said enough is enough.

His three-run jack to left resulted in the first walk-off homer of his career. Game over.

Hits: "Hits" is actually an appropriate way to describe Hyun-Jin Ryu’s performance. On one hand, he surrendered just two runs and struck out six over seven innings. By any standard, that’s getting the job done. But along the way, he was hit with regularity and quite hard. This tone was set in the first inning, when Chris Coghlan scorched a one-out double into right that initially appeared to be going yard. At least once or twice per inning from that point on, a Cub made brutal contact with a pitch from Ryu. It tempted one to wonder when the floodgates would finally burst open.

But the damage was never bad, thanks to a mix of timely strikeouts and quality fielding. Gordon saved a second-inning base hit by laying out for a hard-hit grounder in the gap, then making the play at first. Carl Crawford backpedaled deep into left field to snare two long flies, then made a crucial ninth-inning catch despite losing his footing. Kemp got a nice jump on a deep single to right to prevent an extra-base hit. Ramirez -- often reviled for his leather -- made a sweet, backhanded grab deep in the gap, then rifled the ball to first for the out. Turner saved a run with a slick grab on a sharp one-hopper. Even Ryu aided his own cause by snaring a comebacker from Coughlan to put a double play into motion.

Misses: As mentioned previously, the Dodgers didn’t do a whole heckuva lot with the bats between the dingers from Kemp and Ramirez. Heading into the 11th inning, the Dodgers were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. (There was one positive "miss," however: Turner’s bat slipped out of his hands during a first-inning swing and flew into the stands but managed to miss any fans.)

Pinch-hitting for Ryu in the seventh, Puig overcame an 0-2 count to lace a single to center. Unfortunately, that clutch piece of hitting was cancelled out by getting picked off -- in quite preventable fashion -- at first.

Brandon League's eighth-inning stint began with a leadoff single surrendered to right and ended with two men on base and J.P. Howell cleaning up the mess.

Stat of the game: 53,354. The game’s attendance made this the second-biggest MLB crowd this season. The biggest? Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. It’s a tribute to this fan base’s loyalty and a presumably high number of Chicago transplants living in L.A.

Up next: With a series win in the balance, former Dodger Edwin Jackson (5-11, 5.79 ERA) takes the hill for Chicago, and he’ll match up against struggling righty Josh Beckett (6-5, 2.74 ERA) for Sunday afternoon’s 1:10 PT start.



Clayton Kershaw
19 1.70 219 185
BAY. Puig .293
HRA. Gonzalez 23
RBIA. Gonzalez 103
RD. Gordon 84
OPSY. Puig .854
ERAC. Kershaw 1.70
SOC. Kershaw 219