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Kershaw Pitches Dodgers Back Into First Place

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Clayton Kershaw pitched brilliantly for 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one run, as the Dodgers won their second straight over the Reds, 6-2, moving into first place in the NL West, a half game ahead of San Diego.  James Loney and Andre Ethier provided the offensive support, as the Dodgers improved to 3-2 in Cincinnati this season, and 25-6 against the Reds since 2006.

The Dodgers again scored five runs off of rookie sensation Mike Leake, and got a more favorable result.  On April 22, Leake allowed five runs to the Dodgers but got the win, his first in the major leagues.  Tonight, Leake gave up five runs, and got his first major league loss.

James Loney opened the scoring, driving in Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin with a ground-ball double in the fifth inning, his team-leading 22nd two-bagger on the season.   It was Loney's sixth double in his last three games.

Andre Ethier broke the game open in the sixth, crushing a three-run home run to right field, snapping a streak of 74 plate appearances without a homer.  It was Ethier's first home run since being activated from the disabled list on Memorial Day.  Ethier added two singles as well.

Kershaw was on tonight, walking a season-low one batter, while striking out seven to tie Dan Haren and Adam Wainwright for second place in the National League in strikeouts, Behind Tim Lincecum.  He also induced two pop outs, which helped strand Johnny Gomes at second base after a leadoff double in the second inning.  Kershaw, who shaved his head since the homestand, shaved his ERA down to 2.96.  Kershaw is 6-1 in his last eight starts with a 1.82 ERA in 54 1/3 innings, an average of just under seven innings per start.

Rafael Furcal made his third "wow" play of the series, snagging a line drive by Drew Stubbs and turning it into an unassisted double play to end a bases-loaded rally by the Reds in the eighth inning.  Hong-Chih Kuo got the final two outs of that inning, and when Manny Ramirez widened the lead to 6-1 in the top of the ninth inning with his second home run of the series, Kuo stayed in to complete the five-out save.  It was the second save of Kuo's career, and first since August 14, 2008 against the Phillies.

The Reds had a couple of breaks go against them tonight, both courtesy of home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt.  In the fifth inning, Ramon Hernandez was called out at the plate, trying to score on a single to left field.  The throw by Manny Ramirez was quick and appeared to get Hernandez, though replays showed he evaded the tag by Russell Martin.

Then, in the sixth inning, Scott Rolen and Dusty Baker were ejected for arguing balls and strikes.  Kershaw threw a 2-2 pitch low in the strike zone that was called a ball, but should have been strike three.  The next pitch was a few inches lower than that pitch, yet was called a strike to retire Rolen, much to the Reds' dismay.   Rolen, who remember should have been out anyway on the previous pitch, was rightfully mad at the strike call, and was tossed almost immediately.

Notes

  • Kuo did allow a home run in the ninth inning to Chris Heisey, snapping his scoreless streak at 19 innings
  • Martin had two hits and two runs scored on the night
  • The Dodgers now have the best record in the National League, at 38-27
  • The "Safe at Home" event from February, featuring Sandy Koufax and Joe Torre, will be replayed on Friday at 7:30pm on Prime Ticket.  I suggest clearing 90 minutes worth of space on your DVR
  • The Daily Reveille, the LSU student newspaper, has reported that the Dodgers have signed their third round pick, college outfielder Leon Landry (thanks to Nate Purcell for the link)

John Ely goes for the sweep tomorrow morning against the high leg kick of Bronson Arroyo.

WP - Clayton Kershaw (7-3):  7 1/3, 7 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts

LP - Mike Leake (5-1):  6 IP, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Sv - Hong-Chih Kuo (1):  1 2/3 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Box Score