"The kid was spectacular tonight."
-Joe Torre on Clayton Kershaw's performance
Clayton Kershaw has arrived! Kershaw was brilliant tonight, giving us the best start of his young career:
A home run to Bengie Molina and a walk to Rich Aurilia were the only blemishes for the 21-year old Kershaw on this night. Kershaw left with a 2-1 lead, and the for the second time in as many starts, the bullpen didn't hold his lead.
In the 8th inning, the normally realiable Hong-Chih Kuo hit Pablo Sandoval and allowed a single to Rich Aurilia, and was pulled in favor of Ronald Belisario. Belisario hung an 0-2 slider to Aaron Rowand, who pulled it for a go-ahead three-run homer. Even with their struggles tonight, and in both of Kershaw's starts, the bullpen has still been solid this season, allowing batters to hit a mere .220/.227/.370.
The Dodgers rallied for two runs to tie it in the 8th inning, and after a dominant Jonathan Broxton performance in the top of the 9th, rallied to win in the bottom of the 9th. The game ended when Brian Wilson walked James Loney with the bases loaded.
Loney had an odd night, driving in three runs despite having no hits (he had two bases-loaded walks and a sacrifice fly). Loney is only the third Los Angeles Dodger to have three RBI with no hits, joining Norm Larker in 1960 and Milton Bradley in 2004.
Kershaw sadly wasn't rewarded with a win, but he and Chad Billingsley are the first Dodgers to strike out ten or more batters in back-to-back games since Kevin Brown and Chan Ho Park in September 2000. They are the first Dodger duo 25 and under to do so since Stan Williams and Sandy Koufax in September 1961.
When told he was the youngest Dodger to strikeout 13 or more since Sandy Koufax in 1955, Kershaw said, "That's pretty good company right there."
The Dodgers have now won four straight, and have pulled into a first-place tie with San Diego in the NL West. Eric Stults will face Barry Zito Thursday night. Stults has a lot to follow, as each of the last four Dodger starters -- including Stults himself Saturday -- have allowed only one run.