Aug 25

Ethier tinkers successfully, Gonaflon Gonzalez leaves ever so little to chance in triumphant Dodger debut

Billingsley back to DL

For the second time this season, Chad Billingsley has gone to the disabled list with right elbow issues. Josh Beckett will enter the rotation and start Monday. Also, Alex Castellanos was optioned to Albuquerque, with Nick Punto taking his roster spot.

A pure “Wow!” moment.

Adrian Gonzalez, piled to the sky with expectations as big as the Louisiana Purchase, set up for glory when the Dodgers started their first inning Saturday with three consecutive hits, pulverized a Josh Johnson fastball down the right-field line at Dodger Stadium for an era-opening three-run home run.

The blast gave the Dodgers a lead and a headline they would never relinquish on their way to an 8-2 victory that cut their deficit in the National League West to two games, though Andre Ethier has done his best to steal the show.

Going 4 for 4 for the second night in a row (with two singles, a double and a homer), Ethier has broken the 35-year-old Los Angeles Dodger record held by Ron Cey and tied the 93-year-old franchise mark of Ed Konetchy with hits in 10 consecutive at-bats. Ethier, left in the on-deck circle when the Dodgers made their final out of the night, had a bloop single to center for the milestone hit – and his home run, it should be noted, came off Marlins lefty Wade LeBlanc. Ethier, who is within two of the major-league record, has credited his streak with choking up on the bat slightly and shortening his swing, in response to the blister he has on his palm.

Johnson withered under the Dodgers’ revamped offense (even without Shane Victorino, who was a late scratch with back pain). He threw 46 pitches in the first inning, only escaping further damage when a borderline 3-2 pitch to Clayton Kershaw was called for strike three, and exited the game after a mammoth 89 pitches in only three innings.

The Dodgers had 10 hits off Johnson, 16 in all, including three by Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp and two apiece for Luis Cruz and A.J. Ellis. Ethier and Mark Ellis each came within a triple of the cycle. Gonzalez ended up 1 for 5.

In the records kept by Baseball-Reference.com, Johnson is only the third starting pitcher to have thrown at least 89 pitches against Los Angeles in a start of three innings or less. Over the past two nights, Johnson and Nathan Eovaldi have combined to throw 165 pitches in only six innings, while allowing 12 runs (including five homers) on 20 baserunners.

Amid all this, Kershaw quietly shut down the Marlins over eight innings. After allowing a leadoff double that came around to score on two groundouts in the first inning, and a Giancarlo Stanton special for another run in the second inning, Kershaw held Miami hitless save for an infield single that replays (and my naked eye, for that matter) concluded should have been an out. Kershaw struck out eight, walked two and threw only five more pitches than Johnson.

The Dodgers have as many homers in the past 26 hours, six, as they had in all of June. The atmosphere at Dodger Stadium … jovial, to say the least.

Aug 25

Gonzalez in starting lineup – Kershaw too

Marlins at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Kershaw CXLIII: Kershawrvest Time
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw, in the same lineup. Hello.

  • At the plate this month, Kershaw is 7 for 10 with a sacrifice fly.
  • Keith Law offers a scout’s perspective on the trade at ESPN.com.
  • Peter Abraham writes about the traded Red Sox at the Boston Globe under the headline, “Bad contracts, sure, but not bad people.”
  • Still awaiting word on the Dodgers’ official roster moves. Will update before the game if they come in a timely fashion.
  • Farewell, Neil Armstrong.
Aug 25

The morning after

Going to try to get away from the computer for much of today – wish me luck – so here are some bullet points.

  • As anyone reading this site knows by now, the Dodgers pulled away from the Marlins with a five-run seventh for an 11-4 victory Friday. Andre Ethier went 4 for 4, and Luis Cruz delivered three runs on one play by hitting a 50-foot infield grounder with two on base and circling the bases on two Miami errors. Ethier, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Rivera all homered off former teammate Nathan Eovaldi in the first three innings.
  • An MRI on Chad Billingsley “revealed only right elbow inflammation and nothing worse,” reports Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. ”He said his elbow felt similar to what it felt like in July, when he was placed on the DL, but that Saturday morning would be a better determinant for his immediate pitching future.”
  • Cruz went 2 for 4 to raise his batting average to an incomprehensible .299. Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com gives us the backstory on the Dodger folk hero.
  • Chad Moriyama breaks down the big trade in detail, while here’s Dave Cameron’s take at Fangraphs and Jay Jaffe’s for SI.com.
  • Jaffe provides a chart of the Dodgers’ salary commitments, which I am going to pilfer and place here (all dollar figures in millions, and all annual salaries taken from Cot’s Baseball Contracts):
    Player 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
    Gonzalez $21.00 $21.00 $21.00 $21.00 $21.00 $21.50 $21.50
    Crawford $19.50 $20.00 $20.25 $20.50 $20.75 $21.00 Free Agent
    Beckett $15.75 $15.75 $15.75 Free Agent
    Subtotal $56.25 $56.75 $57.00 $41.50 $41.75 $42.50 $21.50
    Dodgers existing $105.42 $135.51 $76.66 $48.46 $46.96 $47.46 $29.00
    Total $161.67 $192.26 $133.66 $89.96 $88.71 $89.96 $50.50
  • Did the big trade actually happen, or will we find that it, like everything else, is a figment of Tommy Westphal’s autistic imagination?
  • I tweeted this mid-week but never put it on the site: The Dodgers signed 16-year-old lefthanded pitcher Julio Urias from Mexico, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. “One of the better pitching prospects on the market, (Urias) has touched 92 mph and shown good feel for pitching for his age,” Badler writes.
  • Adrian Beltre became the second player ever and first since Joe DiMaggio in 1948 to hit three homers in a game and hit for the cycle in the same week.
  • Former Dodger lefty Eric Stults pitched seven shutout innings for San Diego, lowering his ERA to 2.68, and went 2 for 2 with three RBI to help put some distance between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks for second place in the National League West.
  • Josh Lindblom (15 baserunners, 7.88 ERA in eight innings) is having a bad time in Philadelphia, writes Ian Riccaboni of Phillies Nation.
Aug 24

Billingsley leaves in fourth with injury

With one out in the top of the fourth inning and a 6-3 Dodger lead over the Marlins, Dodger starter Chad Billingsley left the game with an undisclosed injury.

Billingsley, with a 1.30 ERA in six starts since coming off the disabled list, gave up a two-run home run in the first inning to Jose Reyes tonight and allowed seven baserunners among the 17 batters he faced, striking out one. (Update: Jamey Wright replaced Billingsley with a 2-0 count and walked the batter – that walk was also charged to Billingsley.)

Billingsley walked off the mound immediately after throwing a low-and-outside pitch to Gorkys Hernandez. Head trainer Sue Falsone visited with Billingsley and a contingent of Dodgers at the mound before escorting him to the clubhouse. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt pointed to the elbow.

Aug 24

Revolution day game chat

Marlins at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Luis Cruz, 3B
Juan Rivera, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chad Billingsley, P

With Dodger fans whipped into a frenzy, it somehow seems right that Chad Billingsley is pitching tonight. He’s always good for inspiring a little reaction and over-reaction.

The latest we’re hearing is that in addition to those previously mentioned, Dodger pitching prospect Allen Webster will also be going to Boston. The 22-year-old has 117 strikeouts in 121 1/3 innings this season for Double-A Chattanooga with a 3.55 ERA — including a 2.08 ERA in the season’s second half.

I still haven’t digested Josh Beckett and (currently injured) Carl Crawford coming to Los Angeles. Will get to that later on …

Your new 2012 Dodgers lineup?
Shane Victorino, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Luis Cruz, 3B
Mark Ellis, 2B
A.J. Ellis, C

Aug 24

Why I’m hearing ‘Pedro-Delino’ in ‘Rubby-Adrian’

Adrian Gonzalez is just what the doctor ordered for the Dodgers, but at what cost?

* * *

Rubby De La Rosa has been optioned to the minors, enabling him to be traded as a player to be named later in the offseason.

James Loney was listed in the Dodger starting lineup tonight, then scratched. Adrian Gonzales has been scratched by Boston.

It’s happening. The blockbuster trade has the momentum of a Boston-to-Los Angeles freight train. From Gordon Edes of ESPN.com:

The Dodgers and Red Sox are closing in on a deal that would send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles, though a few hurdles remain before it’s official, multiple baseball sources said Friday.

Pitcher Rubby De La Rosa will be headed back to Boston as the centerpiece of the deal, sources say. De La Rosa made his first major league appearance of the season Wednesday, having had Tommy John surgery about 13 months ago. Also included are first baseman James Loney and prospects Ivan De Jesus (infielder) and Jerry Sands (outfielder), according to sources, plus another top prospect that is still unknown. …

I understand the impulse to go for it — I want that World Series too — because I know how much Gonzalez might help the Dodgers. But losing De La Rosa is a huge one for me to swallow.

On Twitter, I’ve already gotten some amount of ridicule for daring to mention this trade in the same breath as the infamous Pedro Martinez-Delino DeShields trade from 1993. But I’m guessing most of those people doing so are using the benefit of hindsight.

Today, DeShields is held in contempt  by Dodger fans — he’s the historic equivalent of Juan Uribe or Andruw Jones as far as Dodger trade acquisitions go. But compare the following at the time of the transaction:

DeShields had also improved three consecutive seasons, from 1991-93. Gonzalez has started to decline over the past three consecutive seasons. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that DeShields, at the time of the transaction, was a more valuable player and had a brighter future than Gonzalez today.

As for De La Rosa … I’ll never forget the time I was in the Dodger dugout, interviewing Orel Hershiser before the 2011 season opener, and heard a key member of the Dodger staff compare De La Rosa to Martinez. It was the first time I heard the comparison — though not the last. De La Rosa’s arm is electric.

At the time of the 1993 trade, Martinez had already logged 115 innings of major-league ball (almost entirely in relief) at age 22 with a 2.58 ERA and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, which puts him ahead compared to De La Rosa, who has just now recovered from Tommy John surgery. But make no mistake — there were concerns about Martinez’s health too, to the point that Dr. Frank Jobe was concerned he would break down. As high as we were on him, we didn’t know Martinez was going to become a legend any more than we know what De La Rosa’s ultimate journey will be. And I can tell you for a fact that plenty were thrilled about DeShields coming to Los Angeles.

The chances of De La Rosa becoming one of the greatest pitchers of all time might be slim, but De La Rosa doesn’t have to become the second Pedro to represent a major loss for the Dodgers. He could just be really good, while Gonzalez apes DeShields’ decline.

Like I said, I’m hungry for a World Series title, and I’m not saying the risk of trading De La Rosa won’t be worth it. Don’t misunderstand me: The Dodgers need a player like Gonzalez, who boosts them at their weakest position. I even believe that a move back to his Southern California roots and away from the Red Sox maelstrom could revitalize him.

All I’m saying is, short of Clayton Kershaw, the trade of any other pitcher besides De La Rosa would have left me more comfortable.

Aug 24

Quick thoughts on Adrian Gonzalez

The Dodgers were awarded a revocable waiver claim to Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who fits the Hanley Ramirez model of an All-Star having a down season that is still way better than what the Dodgers have to offer at that position.

Boston has until Sunday to decide whether it wants to send Gonzalez to the Dodgers. Here are my quick thoughts …

Gonzalez still has value to the Red Sox, even if they are rebuilding. And the Red Sox aren’t exactly poverty-stricken. So, even though he’s making more than $20 million a year through 2016, it seems unlikely to me that they want to just give him away without getting anything in return.

On the other side of the coin, it’s clear the Dodgers have use for him, but as we saw with their waiver claim on Cliff Lee that ended up going nowhere, a willingness to pay high salaries doesn’t mean a deal will get done. Steve Dilbeck of the Times speculated Thursday that the Dodgers would have to offer a group of their best prospects that included top prize Rubby De La Rosa (who would need to somehow clear waivers) and take one or more bad contracts from Boston. That’s excessive. If the Dodgers weren’t willing to do that in order to rope Cliff Lee from the Phillies instead of Joe Blanton, that’s too much to expect for Gonzalez.

However, I do see potential for compromise between these two extremes. I’m holding my breath ever so slightly.

As a footnote, Gonzalez is four weeks younger than Andre Ethier.

Aug 23

Surgeries for all!

“And you get an operation! And you get an operation!”

Blake Hawksworth, who hasn’t been able to throw a major-league pitch this year, had shoulder surgery Wednesday and is going to miss all of 2013 as well, reports Alex Angert of MLB.com.

But that’s not all. Jerry Hairston Jr. is going to miss the remainder of the season with hip surgery, though he is scheduled to be ready for the start of next season.

Here’s more from Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now:

… Head trainer Sue Falsone said Tuesday that Hairston would likely be examined by a couple more hip specialists before the exact nature of his potential surgery was determined, but it would likely involve an arthroscopic procedure similar to what is more commonly performed on shoulders. …

He said the hip had been bothering him to some degree for almost two months, and he had only five hits in his last 38 at-bats. …

* * *

  • In the Dodgers’ next game, Nathan Eovaldi will start against his former teammates, opposing Chad Billingsley. Aaron Harang was given an extra two days of rest, moving to Sunday.
  • Framework has a classic 1964 picture of Willie Davis.
Aug 22

My greatest triumph in Hearts

For those of you who play Hearts, here’s what happened for me today:

The game was to 100.  Ann had a point total far worse than any of us in the 90s, while Ben, Tom and I were each in the 30s. There was a very good chance that the guy that won the next round would win the game.

I had what I thought was a good, safe set of cards, but somehow ended up with the Queen of Spades, which put me in third place and in jeopardy – especially because Ann had reached exactly 99 points. I shifted strategy and purposely picked up all the remaining hearts, putting me further in the hole compared with Ben and Tom – but keeping myself alive, by keeping Ann alive.

Then, in the next hand, I shot the moon – pushing Ann over 100 and the other two into worse scores than mine. It was a stunning comeback victory that would have had Brent Musberger awarding me all the Tostitos!

Aug 22

Andre Ethier in the crosshairs

Giants at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
James Loney, 1B
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Capuano, P

People getting impatient with Matt Kemp for a few hitless games is pretty silly. But Andre Ethier has been a source of frustration for some time now.

Tuesday’s game-ending double play was a tipping point for a few people to point the spotlight at him, including Steve Dilbeck of Dodgers Now, Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. and — in the most detail — Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.

Petriello notes that a second-half slump is nothing new for Ethier, although in the past it was easier to blame things on injuries. This year, he’s not so sure:

… While the poor K/BB trend isn’t good, I don’t think he’s suddenly lost all patience and ability to make contact. It seems to me that it’s more of a symptom than a cause, and that the real root of the trouble is simply this: other managers aren’t blind.

Here’s what I mean by that. Check out the percentage of lefty pitching that Ethier has faced over the last six years, shown in the table at right. For years, Ethier routinely faced lefties 25-30% of the time. This year it’s well over 40%, and as I hardly need to tell you, Ethier is absolutely awful against lefty pitching. Well, I don’t need to tell you, but I will – in over 1,000 career plate appearances against southpaws, Ethier hits only .238/.298/.351 (.650); this year, it’s even worse .216/.281/.315 (.596). Despite his briefly effective first few weeks against lefties this year, Ethier’s back to his typical awful performance against them, and other managers are taking advantage of that fact. If there’s any mystery here, it’s why it took them so long to do this since Ethier’s never really been able to hit them.

Yet either because Don Mattingly is unwilling to offend a star or he simply has no one on the active roster to turn to (and while I know Mattingly-bashing is a fun sport, I’m more inclined to believe the latter, because the bench is short and does anyone really like Rivera that much?) Ethier continues to hit against lefties.  …

It’s a problem without much of a solution, certainly not as long as first base is in its current quandary. The only moves I can think of are to call up Jerry Sands and Elian Herrera as platoon partners for first base and left field, and get rid of a couple of Juans. Otherwise, we’re just hoping for the best.

In the short term, Stephen offers a source of optimism for tonight:

… A pair of left-handers have had success against Cain in their careers. Andre Ethier is 24-for-50 with two doubles and a triple, hitting .480/.500/.560 against Cain in his career, and is 2-for-3 with a double this season. Ethier has still sitting on 29 doubles on August 5, one double shy of becoming the first Dodger in the 129-year history of the franchise with six consecutive seasons of 30 doubles or more.

James Loney is hitting .364/.429/.533 (16-for-44 with five doubles and a triple) against Cain with 11 RBI in 17 games, including 2-for-3 this season. …

Aug 22

Home unfree

The Dodgers began the season hot at home and cold on the road. Now they are cold at home and hot on the road.

Here are the explanations:

  • Through player transactions, the team has evolved from one more suited to playing at home to the opposite (possibility: 15 percent)
  • Coincidence (possibility: 80 percent)
  • Tides (possibility: 5 percent)
  • Anything else (possibility: <0.5 percent)

* * *

Stephen Fife has a 6.05 ERA with Triple-A Albuquerque since being sent back down, largely because he allowed nine runs in 4 2/3 innings on August 16. He has two quality starts in his other outings. In 19 1/3 innings, he has the same number of strikeouts (nine) as homers (three) and walks (six) combined.

I’m still comfortable with the idea that Joe Blanton – as disappointing as he’s been – was a better bet than Fife. Perhaps the tides will allow Rubby De La Rosa to be better still.

* * *

Elsewhere …

  • On his 36th birthday, former Dodger Randy Wolf has been released by the Brewers. Wolf had a 5.69 ERA, 1.574 WHIP and 6.13 strikeouts per nine innings this season. Milwaukee will swallow the remainder of his $9.5 million salary for 2012 and a $1.5 million buyout of his 2013 option.
  • A few people wrote Tuesday about what impending free agent Nick Swisher of the Yankees will be worth on the open market; Dave Cameron of Fangraphs used Andre Ethier as a comparison.
  • Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports devotes his column to the Matt Kemp-Tim Lincecum at-bat with the bases loaded Tuesday.
  • The double-shot of 10-strikeout, no-walk performances by Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw on Monday marked only the third time since 1920 such a feat happened in the same game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
  • Former Dodger Jon Link has a 0.75 ERA in a comeback-from-release attempt with the Marlins’ New Orleans affiliate, writes Christopher Jackson of Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.

    … Link was cut (by Norfolk) on June 12 and was still unemployed going into July.

    “A month without a paycheck and a baby on the way is not the best situation to be in,” he said. …

  • Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs has fun with an 1887 newspaper baseball clipping.
  • Umpire Jim Joyce performed life-saving CPR on an Arizona Diamondbacks employee Monday.
  • Best wishes to MLB players union chief Michael Weiner, who is being treated for a brain tumor.
Aug 21

Sufferin’ succotash

Injury updates

Ted Lilly and Matt Guerrier might pitch in relief for the Dodgers in September, but Jerry Hairston Jr. and Justin Sellers are eyeing season-ending surgery, reports Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.

Heavens to Murgatroyd.

What a revoltin’ development.

Sheesh.

These and other expressions summarize tonight’s 4-1 Dodger loss to the Giants.

For starters, the Dodgers lost by three runs on a night they gave away at least three runs – all after starting pitcher Joe Blanton surrendered two runs before he got an out.

Blanton allowed 10 of the first 19 batters he faced to reach base and was charged with all four San Francisco runs in another disappointing outing that actually lowered his ERA as a Dodger to 7.71. But even as Blanton struggled and Tim Linecum (who retired his first 10 batters) dominated through the first five innings, the game was very winnable, but for some ugly play by the Dodgers.

I’m not exactly a perfectionist, but I offer you the following from the top of the fourth:

  • With one out, No. 7 hitter Gregor Blanco singles to center on a ball that Hanley Ramirez seemed to approach glacially. Not an effort issue but a speed issue.
  • A Blanton pickoff throw goes awry, and suddenly instead of having a runner on first with one out and the No. 8 and 9 hitters coming up, he’s on third.
  • Brandon Crawford reaches and pokes a looper to left field. And again, I know it’s not an effort issue with Shane Victorino, but I thought it would be at best a sacrifice fly. Instead, it was an RBI single.
  • Because there is still only one out, Lincecum is able to sacrifice Crawford to second base.
  • And with two out, Angel Pagan hits a ground ball up the middle that again illustrated how important range is. Adam Kennedy (2 for 3 at the plate) couldn’t reach it, and in came the fourth Giant run of the game.

Now, it wasn’t exactly Three Stooges ball out there, but it was frustrating to know that if any one of those four plays were made, the Giants don’t score two runs in the inning, and if any of the first three plays are made, they don’t score at all.

To top it all off, the Dodgers finally got to Lincecum in the sixth inning, with their first four batters reaching base, but only got a single run out of it because A.J. Ellis was nailed at home trying to score from second on a Victorino single – down by four with nobody out. You’ll almost never see that.

The Dodgers lost in every facet of the game today. It happens. Sometimes my kids misbehave, sometimes they don’t clean their rooms, sometimes they skin their knees, and sometimes it all happens in the same day. Life can be hard to watch.

Most of me had given up on the game by the ninth inning, but thanks to Dodger relievers Scott Elbert, Brandon League, Randy Choate and Jamey Wright retiring 10 of the 11 batters they faced, part of me had hope – which grew when Matt Kemp singled with one out. (Kemp went 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and made hard contact in three of the four at-bats, including a deep fly to right with the bases loaded in that sixth inning, so I think you can see signs of him busting out of his mini-slump). But with Hanley Ramirez on deck as the potential tying run, Andre Ethier completed a long evening by grounding into a game-ending double play.

That’s all, folks.

Aug 21

Rubby De La Rosa is back

Giants at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Adam Kennedy, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
James Loney, 1B
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Joe Blanton, P

Faster than a speeding Rubby De La Rosa fastball, the Dodgers have activated Rubby De La Rosa from the disabled list, 12 1/2 months after his Tommy John surgery. Javy Guerra will go to Albuquerque until rosters expand in September.

De La Rosa’s progress was evident, as we noted earlier Sunday, and the Dodgers’ main decision — once they became confident in his health — seemed to rest upon whether they wanted him to build up higher pitch counts in the minors or come help in the majors right away. It does seem fast, but it’s an exciting move.

Guerra is actually on a streak of 11 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts, so he wasn’t exactly crying out to be optioned. He allowed 12 baserunners in that time and two out of five inherited runners to score. But it shows how highly the Dodgers think of Shawn Tolleson, who is unscored upon in his past 9 1/3 innings with two hits, five walks and five strikeouts. Tolleson has also allowed two of five inherited runners to score in that period.

And no, you don’t cut a Brandon League nor a Jamey Wright with 10 days until the rosters expand. On the other hand, the Dodgers could have found a way to go with a three-man bench …

Aug 20

Bumgarner delivers maverick performance to stifle Dodgers

OK, maybe Madison Bumgarner will win the NL Cy Young Award.

In the kind of pitching duel that helped catapult Clayton Kershaw to top pitcher honors in the league last year, it was the San Francisco lefty who delivered the extra squeeze, shutting out the Dodgers with 10 strikeouts and no walks over eight innings in a 2-1 Giants victory.

Kershaw also had 10 strikeouts in eight innings – not to mention two of the four Dodger hits off Bumgarner, and a diving catch in foul territory – but he gave in for single runs in the first and sixth innings, each driven in by Pablo Sandoval, and ended up on the short end. The second run was safe at most by milliseconds.

Kershaw has the lowest career ERA against the Giants that any pitcher has against any single team in major-league history since 1920 – 1.32 going into tonight’s game, 1.39 now – but after going 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA against San Francisco last year, he is 1-3 despite a 1.74 ERA against the Giants this year.

Folk hero Luis Cruz had the other two hits against Bumgarner, who threw 123 pitches while getting the rest of the Dodgers to go 0 for 21. Hanley Ramirez homered off Sergio Romo with two out in the ninth, but lefty Javier Lopez came in to shut down Andre Ethier to end the game and put San Francisco back in first place in the National League West by half a game.