LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw always brings his best against the Giants, but rarely has he been better than he was Wednesday night.
The reigning National League MVP went the distance and struck out 15 in a 2-1 Dodgers victory. The sweep dropped the Giants 6 1/2 games out of first place with 29 to play. This is the first time this season they have been more than six games out of first place.
The Giants were overwhelmed most of the night, but they threatened late. Matt Duffy lined a two-out single to left in the ninth and Buster Posey singled on Kershaw’s 127th pitch. After a long mound visit, Kershaw stayed in to face Marlon Byrd. On his 132nd pitch, which tied a career-high, Kershaw got his final strikeout. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap.
You never want to fall behind Kershaw, even by a run, but the Giants did it early. Justin Turner hit a leadoff single in the first and scored on Carl Crawford’s double to left-center. Turner’s journey was helped by Angel Pagan’s bobble on the warning track.
Kershaw faced the minimum through five innings, allowing just a Posey single. Posey was promptly picked off of first base. The Giants looked dead in the water, but Kelby Tomlinson drew a walk in the sixth, stole second (after a near-pickoff) and scored when Pagan’s bouncer ricocheted off Turner’s glove and into left field. The Dodgers struck right back, taking the lead on Chase Utley’s solo homer.
The frustration boiled over an inning later. Brandon Belt was called out on a checked-swing and Bruce Bochy was tossed for arguing. It was the second straight ejection for Bochy, who walked all the way to left field to yell at third-base ump Mike Winters. Winters had been behind the plate Tuesday night and ejected Bochy for arguing a called third strike on Alejandro De Aza.
Starting pitching report: Mike Leake had a tough task, but he was excellent. The deadline acquisition gave up two runs on five hits and needed just 76 pitches to get through seven innings. He was pulled only because Bochy needed to use a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth.
Bullpen report: Josh Osich pitched the eighth and struck out a pair.
At the plate: We might as well rename this section “On The Bases” tonight. The Giants didn’t have many baserunners, and they compounded that issue by having two guys get picked off. Tomlinson nearly became Kershaw’s third victim, but he was saved by a review.
In the field: Pagan made a mistake on Crawford’s double, but other than that he looked better than he has in a long time out in center field. He caught a sinking liner in the fourth and made a perfect throw to second to double off Turner. In the sixth, Pagan made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Jimmy Rollins of extra bases.
Attendance: The Dodgers announced a crowd of 41,648 human beings. Alex Trebek sat two rows in front of Marlins Man.
Up next: Four games at Coors Field, never an easy task regardless of how the Rockies are playing. The big question at the moment: Who starts for Bochy on Friday?