As expected, both starting pitchers were effective tonight, each pitching a quality start, but Josh Johnson lasted a little longer than Clayton Kershaw. In a battle of bullpens, the Dodgers usually come out ahead, but tonight they were done in by back-to-back Marlin pinch hits.
In the seventh inning, Brent Leach was summoned to face the lefty-hitting Jeremy Hermida with runners on first and second base. Hermida deposited a single just in front of Andre Ethier, scoring the go-ahead run, but thanks to Ronny Paulino running into an out at third base on the play, the damage was limited to one run that inning, and the Dodgers only trailed 4-3 after seven innings.
Ramon Troncoso was brought in for the eighth inning, his customary role, but allowed just his third home run of the season, a leadoff shot to another pinch-hitter, Chris Coghlan, who deposited a fly ball into the right field seats between the foul pole and the bullpen. Troncoso allowed another run in the inning, meaning his string of 17 straight innings without allowing an earned run came to a halt.
Clayton Kershaw was effective again, which is a weird thing to say for someone who gave up 12 baserunners in six innings. However, most of the hits were of the dink-and-dunk variety, which could have been expected given that Kershaw's batting average on balls in play was a paltry and somewhat-lucky .254 coming into tonight. Still, three runs in six innings -- including the first unearned run allowed by Kershaw in his career -- is a quality start.
Josh Johnson was just a bit better, lasting seven innings, also allowing three runs, but not walking a batter. Johnson picked up his ninth win in 11 decisions this season.
Hong Chih-Kuo pitched a scoreless inning for Advanced Class A Inland Empire tonight, striking out the final two batters he faced. Mike Saeger, the lead broadcaster for the 66ers, mentioned Kuo hit 92 mph during his inning, although I only heard him mention the speed of one pitch. Kuo is expected to be activated soon, perhaps for the Dodgers upcoming road trip.
WP - Josh Johnson (9-2): 7 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 4 strikeouts
LP - James McDonald (2-2): 0.2 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk
Sv - Leo Nunez (7): 1 perfect inning