People keep complaining about the Dodger’s rotation, but the offense turned in another subpar performance tonight against a pitcher who had an ERA of over 7.00, and hadn’t won in over a year. Thank god Clayton Kershaw was on the mound. Chris Volstad came into the game 0-7 on the season, and hungry as ever. Of course we all know how the Dodgers normally do against bad pitchers. Usually Dodger Stadium is a win-less pitcher’s haven. Not tonight though. Thanks to another amazing performance from Clayton Kershaw. Once again, Kershaw’s complete and utter domination against all opponents lifted the Dodgers to a series victory tonight over the Cubs, to improve to 9-6, and to keep pace with the Giants who won in Colorado. Clayton pitched seven innings of one run ball allowing just three hits, and whiffing seven. Kersh also collected two of the Dodgers seven hits on the night. Need I remind everyone that the offense did just enough to win. Give Matt Kemp another assist tonight as he continues to carry the Dodger offense like he always does. Kemp blasted a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth to give the Dodgers the lead for good. Bison is hitting over .350 since his return from the disabled list. The boys in blue would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, off of a Victorino leg double, a force play, and a Starlin Castro error on a Hanley Ramirez line drive to short. Ronald Belisario pitched a scoreless eighth, and Jansen shut the door in the ninth, picking up his 21st save. The Dodgers won 3-1. Let’s get to the highlights.
Top of the first. James Loney makes a nice backhanded sliding stop on Starlin Castro’s grounder down the first base line. Darwin Barney flies out to shallow left. Kershaw whiffs Anthony Rizzo like a rented mule, and the Cubs go down in order in the top of the first.
Shane Victorino flies out to left to lead off the game for the Dodgers. Mark Ellis flies out to deep right. Matt Kemp grounds out to the hole at short. Castro makes a nice play to throw him out by half a step.
In the top of the second, Kershaw whiffs Alfonso Soriano, and Jeff Baker. With Baker being out on a called third strike. Wellington Castillo’s piddly little grounder to short ends the frame. Volstad has another 123 inning in the bottom of the second. Andre Ethier lines out to short. Hanley Ramirez hits a long drive to deep right, and Joe Mather makes a leaping catch against the wall, to rob Hanley of an extra base hit. James Loney pops out to end the second inning.
Top of the third. Mather pops out to second. Luis Valbuena walks. Volstad sacrifices Valbuena to second. Castro weakly grounds out to Hanley to end the inning. The game remains scoreless. Bottom of the third. Jerry Hairston lines out to third. Valbuena has to dive to his left to make the play. A.J. Ellis grounds out. Kershaw takes matters into his own hands, by singling up the middle. Victorino grounds into a force out at second. Castro has to feed Barney running across the Bag to beat Kershaw to second base.
Top of the fourth. The Cubs get on the board with a single, and a double, and a rare defensive miscue from Loney. Barney starts the inning with a single. Rizzo hits a little grounder to first, loney grabs it and steps on the bag for the first out, which takes away the force at second. Loney makes an off balance throw, and not in time for Ellis to tag Barney. Now the Cubs have a runner at second with one out. Soriano doubles into the gap in left center to score Barney. 1-0 Cubs. Baker whiffs. Castillo flies out to Ethier to end the inning.
Bottom of the fourth. The Dodgers would take the lead with two runs on a single from Ellis, and a two-run home run from Matt Kemp. Mark Ellis singles to right. Kemp blasts a two run shot over the righ center field wall. Mather tried to leap and make the catch, but the ball just hit inches above his glove, while hitting the top of the wall and bouncing over. That’s Bison’s 16th home run, and the Dodgers take the lead 2-1. Ethier walks, but Ramirez hits into a double play. Loney singles with two outs, but Hairston grounds into a force out.
Top of the fifth. Kershaw retires Mather on a ground ball. Valbuena walks again. Volstad sacrifices Valbuena to second. Castro whiffs looking on a called strike three to end the frame.
Volstad rolls right along through the bottom of the fifth. Kershaw does collect his second hit of the game. However he’s left on base when Victorino grounds into a force, and Mark Ellis whiffs. Kershaw has a nice quick easy 123 inning in the top of the sixth. Barney and Rizzo are retired, and Soriano whiffs.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Dodger offense rolls right over again. Kemp and Ethier whiff, and Hanley grounds out. In the top of the seventh, Kershaw pitches his final inning of work for the night. Baker grounds out to Loney. Castillo singles to center. Mather grounds back to the box. Castillo moves to second. Kershaw whiffs Valbeuna on a nasty third strike breaking ball.
Kershaw pitches seven innings allowing only one run, three hits, two walks, and whiffs seven. Kersh made 112 pitches, and collected two hits with the bat. He comes out with the lead and in line for the win. Volstad pitches his last inning in the seventh inning as well. Volstad allows a single to AJ, but that is all. The Dodgers still lead 2-1, going to the top of the eighth.
Ronald Bellisario enters to pitch the top of the eighth, and does a good job of shutting down the Cubs. David DeJesus, and Castro both ground out. Barney whiffs to end the frame. In the bottom of the eighth, Shawn Camp enters the game for the Cubs. Victorino leads off with a leg double. Mark Ellis grounds out, but can’t advance Victorino. The Cubs wisely intentionally walk Kemp. Left hander James Russell is called in to pitch to Dre. Ethier grounds into a force out, just barely beating the throw to first. Victorino moves to third on the play. Ramirez hits a hot smash to short, that Castro should have caught, but goes right under his glove and into right field, for an error. Victorino scores the Dodger’s third run. 3-1 Blue.
Move to the top of the ninth. In comes Kenley Jansen to close shop for the Blue. Rizzo flies out to left. Victorino almost lost the ball in the lights, but hangs on for the catch. Soriano whiffs for the second out. Bryan LaHair whiffs to end the game. Dodgers win! The Dodgers go for the sweep tomorrow as Joe Blanton will make his Dodger debut. The Cubs will counter with Justin Germano. The Dodgers improve to 58-50, and remain a half game behind the Giants in second place. Arizona lost in Philly tonight, and are now three and a half games back in third place.
Join us tomorrow for more comprehensive daily Dodger documentation. Try to say that three times fast guys. Have a great Saturday night Dodger fans! Go Blue.