Clayton Kershaw dominated the Chicago Cubs for eight innings and Rafael Furcal scored the first and last runs of game, driving himself in with a decisive two-run home run in the seventh inning off losing pitcher Randy Wells as the Los Angeles Dodgers came from behind to win 3-2 at Chavez Ravine.
In one of the finest performances of his young career, Kershaw struck out 12 batters while walking none and completing eight innings with only 97 pitches, notching his ninth win of the season. Despite having perhaps his finest opportunity to end a game by shaking hands with the catcher, Kershaw was pulled for the ninth inning by manager Joe Torre in favor of closer Jonathan Broxton, who allowed only a two-out single while collecting his 19th save.
Kershaw's outing was marred only by a prodigious solo home run by Alfonso Soriano to the back of the Dodger bullpen in the second inning, and an RBI-single by Geovany Soto that plated Aramis Ramirez after his soft bloop double in the fourth.
Furcal led off the game with a double and eventually scored when James Loney collected his 58th RBI with a two-out single. The first inning might have been higher scoring, but Andre Ethier's smoked grounder was deftly turned into a 3-6-1 double play by first baseman Derrek Lee.
With Russell Martin on second base following his single and a successful sacrifice bunt by Kershaw, Furcal turned on the first pitch from Wells, and drove in the winning runs with a line drive home run just inside the right-field foul pole that struck the outstretched arms of the fans in the front row.
- K is for Kershaw: Kershaw's 12 strikeouts were his second highest total ever, trailing only a 13 strikeout performance against the Giants in April 2009. Per Eric Stephen, since his shortest outing of the year on May 4, Kershaw has rebounded nicely: 12 GS, 8-2, 2.20 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, 6.81 IP/GS, 2.87 BB/9, 10.14 K/9
K is for Kontrol: Per Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness, the last two Dodgers with 12 or more strikeouts and zero walks: Chad Billingsley in 2008 (13 and Brad Penny in 2007 (14). Tonight was the 17th such game in team history. Kershaw reduced his season ERA and WHIP to 2.96 and 1.20, respectively. In his last three starts, he has struck out 25 batters and walked only 2.
- Furcal en fuego: With his 3 for 3 performance tonight, also reaching base once by being hit by a pitch, Furcal is hitting .429 / .471 / .730 / 1.201 since returning from his bereavement leave on June 23.
WP - Clayton Kershaw (9-4): 8 IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks, 12 strikeouts, 97 pitches
LP - Randy Wells (4-7): 7 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
S - Jonathan Broxton (19): 1 IP, 0 runs, 1 hit