Clayton Kershaw pitched the Dodgers back into a virtual first place tie on Sunday with his fifth career shutout (Photo: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE)
The last time the Dodgers had a three-game series in San Francisco, the team with the three-game division lead got swept. The Dodgers were on the better end of that exchange this time around, finishing off their sweep with a 4-0 win behind Clayton Kershaw and the timely hitting of Luis Cruz.
The Dodgers (56-47) are now in a virtual tie with the Giants (55-46) atop the National League West, though San Francisco does own the slightly higher winning percentage (.545 to .544).
Kershaw came into the game with a miniscule 0.79 ERA in seven career games, including six starts, in San Francisco. That ERA went down on Sunday with his second shutout of the season and fifth of his career.
Kershaw struck out seven and walked one, allowing just five hits, for his eighth win of the season. In his career at AT&T Park, Kershaw's ERA is now 0.66 with 53 strikeouts and 12 walks in 54 2/3 innings.
With runners on the corners and one out in the fourth inning, Hanley Ramirez hit into a fielders choice but beat the throw to first base, allowing the Dodgers to score their first run. Then, after James Loney popped a ball into the sun at third base that Marco Scutaro couldn't catch to prolong the inning, Cruz doubled to left to score Ramirez for a 2-0 lead.
Ramirez has scored one run in all five games as a Dodger.
For Cruz, that extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games, and his run scoring single in the eighth inning gave him an absurd 16 RBI in 22 games as a Dodger. He is hitting .400/.448/.560 in 29 plate appearances with runners in scoring position this season.
Cruz later scored on a single by Mark Ellis to widen the lead to 4-0, providing the final margin.
Kershaw got a bit of a scare in the seventh inning, when with two outs Marco Scutaro grounded a ball off Kershaw's right wrist that ricocheted to second base for a 1-4-3 putout. Kershaw remained in the game after getting visited by trainer Sue Falsone, and struck out Brandon Belt to end the inning.
A.J. Ellis walked four times on Sunday, tying his career high. He became just the third Dodger since 1918 with a pair of four-walk games in one season, joining Jack Fournier (1924) and Duke Snider (1955). Ellis also walked four times on June 11 against the Angels.
After going 7-3 on their road trip to even their road record on the season, the Dodgers return home for a nine-game homestand. The Dodgers begin a three-game homestand with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night, with Aaron Harang starting the series opener against Trevor Cahill.
Home Runs: none
WP - Clayton Kershaw (8-6): 9 IP, 5 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
LP - Ryan Vogelsong (8-5): 6 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 3 walks, 5 strikeouts