Kuroda on Track, Dodger Bats Attack, & Kershaw is Back

The Dodger offense took advantage of the Nationals, bludgeoning the Nationals 14-2 in the opening game of the three-game series in Washington DC, but the biggest news was the triumphant return of Clayton Kershaw, who pitched brilliantly over the final two innings in his first appearance in 18 days.

Kershaw entered a blowout in the eighth inning, pitching his first game since separating his shoulder while "power shagging" balls in the outfield during batting practice on September 6.  Kershaw struck out four batters over his two innings, allowing only a walk to Elijah Dukes in the ninth inning.  He was very sharp overall, and was hitting 93-95 mph with his fastball, a very good sign for Dodger fans everywhere.  Before he entered, here is what the Dodger offense accomplished tonight:

  • This was the fourth time the Dodgers have scored 14 runs or more in a game this season.  The last time was when they scored 17 against Milwaukee, a game Prince Fielder wasn't too pleased with.
  • Casey Blake's home run in the seventh inning extended the Dodgers' season high streak to 11 straight games with a home run.  It is tied for the eighth longest Dodger streak since moving to Los Angeles
  • Rafael Furcal had four hits, the eighth time he has done that as a Dodger.  Furcal also drove in four runs, and the Dodgers are 27-8 when he gets on base to lead off the game.
  • Jason Repko, who can tell his grandchildren that he pinch hit for Manny Ramirez, had a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, driving in his first run since September 28, 2006.
  • James Loney had three hits, including a double, although one of his singles was a gift from the official scorer on one of the worst defensive plays I have ever seen a first baseman make (by Adam Dunn, who simply refused to throw the ball to first with ample time to retire Loney)
  • Every Dodger starter had at least one hit and one run scored, except for Andre Ethier, who still had a walk and an RBI groundout.
  • Ronnie "The Hot Horse" Belliard had two hits, including a double, and a walk, bringing his Dodger batting line to .322/.365/.610.  He has 15 RBI in his 15 starts as a Dodger.

Matt Kemp picked up two runs batted in to bring his season total to 97, as he attempts to become the first Dodger ever to hit .300 with 25 home runs, 30 steals, and 100 RBI

Hiroki Kuroda was sharp yet again, allowing only two unearned runs on an Adam Dunn home run in the third inning.  Kuroda won his third straight start by pitching six strong innings.  Since returning from getting hit in the head, Kuroda has a 2.16 ERA and a 3.09 FIP in four starts, with 21 strikeouts and five walks in 25 innings.

Kuroda and Kershaw made important strides tonight.  Chad Billingsley will get his chance to do the same tomorrow, as he opposes rookie Ross Detwiler.

Magic Numbers
To win NL West: 6 (Rockies beat the Padres 11-10)
To clinch a playoff spot: 2 (Giants lost 10-8 to the Diamondbacks in Arizona)

WP - Hiroki Kuroda (8-6):  6 IP, 4 hits, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts

LP - Livan Hernandez (8-12):  3.2 IP, 8 hits, 8 runs, 4 walks

Box Score

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