Dodgers Use Two Long Balls (Puig, A.J.) And Kershaw’s Dominance To Even Series

Dodgers  4 6 0Padres    0 3 1WP-Kershaw-15-9LP-Smith-1-2HR-A.J. Ellis-9-Puig-18

Now that the Dodgers have clinched the division crown and secured themselves a playoff spot, they can rest everyone and line up the rotation for the playoffs. That seems to be the Dodger’s primary concern, instead of going for home field advantage with seven games left to play after tonight. Yesterday evening the Dodgers were all hung over and Don Mattingly rolled out the “We just clinched and everyone is hung over day-after lineup” . That lineup filled with Nick Buss’s and Drew Butera’s were easily shut down in a 2-0 loss. Tonight the Dodgers put out a normal lineup, with all the regulars back in sans Hanley. Looks like the Dodgers will be playing Hanley sparingly from here on out.

You could definitely say the pitching match-up favored the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw going up against random right handed rookie Burch Smith. These games are meaningless for both of these clubs, but there was some action during the second game of this three game set. The Dodgers won this one 4-0 to even the series.

Photo Credit-Lenny Ignelzi

Both teams had early scoring opportunities, but neither club could cash them in. The Dodgers had the bases loaded in the first inning on two walks and a single, but couldn’t score. The Boys in Blue also stranded a lead-off double from Crawford in the third. The Padres stranded two runners in the bottom of the first inning, and when they had runners on second and third in the bottom of the third on a walk, single, and wild pitch, they still were unable to score. A costly base running blunder from the opposing starter Smith cost San Diego dearly in that frame.

Kershaw was a bit shaky early on, but settled in nicely, and held the Padres to just three hits across seven shutout frames. Kershaw walked two and whiffed ten. This was Kershaw’s first ten whiff game since July. Kershaw made 99 pitches, and lowers his ERA to 1.88 while winning his fifteenth game of the season. The win for Kershaw stopped him from losing his fourth straight decision to the Padres. This was just a tune up for the playoffs. He should make one more start before the postseason begins. Way to go Kersh!

Opposing starter Burch Smith had control problems all day. He only gave up two runs on three hits through six frames. But he walked five to go with his six whiffs.

The Dodgers did all of their scoring on a pair of two-run bombs from A.J., and Puig. One of those walks came back to haunt Smith, when Nick Punto’s free pass put him aboard and he came around to score on A.J. Ellis’s line drive two-run home run in the fourth inning. In the top of the seventh, after Kershaw reached base on a bunt single, Puig destroyed a Baseball, hitting one of the longest home runs in Petco Park history. (The other was from Gonzo) An absolute bomb beyond the back wall in straightaway center field. The 457 foot blast put the Dodgers up 4-0. That was Puig’s eighteenth home run of the season.

Photo Credit-Lenny Ignelzi

The Dodgers bullpen took it the rest of the way. Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect bottom of the eighth, and Brian Wilson pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth, needing only nine pitches to wrap it up. Dodgers win 4-0! Here’s how the game progressed…….

Yasiel Puig opens up the game with a walk. Carl Crawford’s force erases Puig from second, and Crawford is safe at first. Then Crawford steals second. I know, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Then Matt Kemp draws a walk. With first and second, Smith whiffs Gonzalez on a high fastball up around his eyes. With two outs, Juan Uribe’s line drive single to right loads the bases. The runners have to hold thanks to a strong throw from Jesus Guzman. Of course Mark Ellis whiffs pathetically on a called strike three curve -ball. The Dodgers don’t score.

The Padres leave runners at first and second in the bottom of the first. Kershaw pitches around a Chris Denorfia single, and a Jedd Gyroko walk. Kershaw retires San Diego on a Chase Headley pop-up, a Guzman fly out, and a whiff of rookie Tommy Medica.

The Dodger defense bails out Kershaw in the bottom of the third. Kershaw falters a bit allowing a single to the opposing starter Burch Smith, (His first MLB hit), and a walk to Denorfia. Headley whiffs on what is ruled a wild pitch, but the both runners advance to second and third. Gyorko’s grounder to second looks like it would score the run, but Smith freezes at third, and after the Dodgers record the out at first base, Gonzalez fires to home plate to nail Smith for a double play. San Diego’s base running blunder proves to be costly.

The Dodgers finally break through in the top of the fourth.  After a one-out M.Ellis walk, A.J. Ellis turns on a pitch and drives it down the left field line over the corner wall for his ninth home run of the season. The two-run shot puts the Dodgers up 2-0.

Kershaw picks up his fifth and sixth whiffs in the bottom of the fourth against Medica, and a swinging whiff on Kyle Blanks. The Dodgers lead 2-0 after four frames. Kershaw pitches another scoreless frame in the bottom of the fifth. Collecting his seventh whiff (Ronny Cedeno). Dodgers still lead 2-0 at the end of five innings.

Photo Credit-Lenny Ignelzi

Kershaw gets his eighth whiff to start the bottom of the sixth on Denorfia. Then Headley doubles and the Padres have a man in scoring position. Kershaw recovers nicely to whiff Gyorko for number nine, and retires Guzman on a grounder to end the frame. 2-0 Dodgers after six.

Tim Stauffer comes in to relieve Smith in the top of the seventh, and the Dodgers do not greet him nicely. Kershaw leads off with a bunt single along the third base side. Yasiel Puig crushes a monster home run to straightaway center field that lands beyond the back wall and over the shrubbery. The estimated distance of Puig’s two-run bomb is 457 feet. The Dodgers go up 4-0. With Kershaw on the mound, that should be plenty of runs to secure the win.

Kershaw records his tenth whiff of the game during a 123 bottom of the seventh. A whiff of Blanks, a fly out from Medica, and a Nick Hudley grounder ends the seventh quickly. Ronald Belsario relieves Kershaw in the bottom of the eighth, and pitches a 123 frame. Move to the bottom of the ninth. Wilson in to wrap it up. He needs just nine pitches to do that. headley whiffs. Gyorko grounds out, and Guzman whiffs. The Dodgers win!

The Dodgers are now 89-66 on the season, and a win tomorrow will give them their 90th. They have now also won the season series from San Diego for the sixth time in the last seven years. The final game of the series will be tomorrow afternoon. Join us then as Zack Greinke looks for his sixteenth win of the season. San Diego will counter with Andrew Cashner at 1:10 PM