All season long for the Dodgers in 2011, their bread and butter has been Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Two of the very best players in the game have been at their best this year, and tonight at Petco Park was no different. Kemp and Kershaw each extended personal streaks to five, leading the Dodgers to a 6-2 win over the Padres to open a three-game series.
Kershaw against the Padres' lineup in this ballpark was, to put it mildly, a favorable matchup. Kershaw matched his lowest strikeout total of the season with four, but Kershaw was a ground ball machine, inducing 14 groundouts, picking up his fifth straight win. A byproduct of the low strikeout total was a low pitch count, and Kershaw was able to finish what he started, throwing 108 pitches in the process. It was the fourth complete game of the season for Kershaw, and fifth of his career.
Kemp extended his streak to five straight games with two hits, and stretched his overall hitting streak to a season-high-tying nine games, during which he is hitting .444/.462/.778. Kemp led off the fourth inning with a double and later scored on a single by Rod Barajas. In the eighth inning, Kemp scored Andre Ethier from first with an RBI triple to the gap in left center field. Kemp leads the National League with 83 RBI.
Jamey Carroll opened up the fifth inning with a double to left field, and then two plays by Cory Luebke helped the Dodgers add to their lead. Clayton Kershaw bunted up the third base line and though the ball looked like it might go foul, Luebke fielded the ball then threw wildly to first base, but by then Kershaw was already at the bag and was credited with a single. Then Dee Gordon tapped a ball back to in between the mound and first base. Luebke fielded and threw home, but his throw was low, allowing Carroll to slide in with the run. The Dodgers added another run when on a Casey Blake sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
Carroll also had a pair of nifty slides in the seventh inning after leading off the frame with a single. On a busted hit and run play the throw from catcher Rob Johnson beat Carroll to second base, but Carroll deftly slid away from the tag for a stolen base. Then Carroll tried to steal third, and the throw beat him again, but he avoided the tag again...at least until Chase Headley tagged Carroll in the armpit before his foot hit the base. Only, third base umpire Phil Cuzzi didn't see the tag, and Carroll was safe. Carroll has nine steals this season without being caught, which is one more than the Los Angeles Dodger record shared by noted speedsters Greg Brock (1984) and Eric Karros (1996).
Hiroki Kuroda starts Tuesday, looking to exercise his no-loss clause against Mat Latos.
UPDATE: The MRI results for Rubby De La Rosa showed a sprained ligament in his right elbow, per DodgerTalk on KABC. Horrible news.
WP - Clayton Kershaw (13-4): 9 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
LP - Cory Luebke (3-6): 7 1/3 IP, 10 hits, 5 runs, 3 strikeouts