The reaction from the Dodgers on Monday night was one of missed opportunity, as they couldn't capitalize on one of Clayton Kershaw's finest performances of the season in a 2-1 loss to the Giants.
"It's frustrating because when you get a game like that, you want to get a win," said manager Don Mattingly, who saw Madison Bumgarner outduel his ace with eight scoreless innings.
Kershaw struck out 10 and walked none in his eight innings, but allowed two runs. He was 5-1 last season against the Giants, and his four head-to-head wins against Tim Lincecum had scores of 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, and 1-0. This year, Kershaw has allowed just six runs in 31 innings against the Giants, a 1.74 ERA, but he is 1-3. His three losses have been by scores of 2-1, 2-1, and 2-0.
"Any time you play the Giants it's a big game," Kershaw said after the game, which snapped his four-start winning streak. "Losing sucks no matter what. Tonight's no different."
As good as Kershaw was, Bumgarner was even better. A.J. Ellis saw both up close, catching Kershaw and going 0-for-3 at the plate against Bumgarner with two strikeouts.
"(Bumgarner) was throwing bullets. He was using both sides of the plate. He throws that cutter in on the hands, and it's tough to square up your swing against him," Ellis said. "He has such good command, and was able to go deep in the game and match Kersh pitch for pitch."
Per Elias, tonight was just the third game in the live ball era (1920-present) that featured both starting pitchers strikeout 10 or more with no walks.
As for the rivalry, the Giants leapfrogged the Dodgers back into first place, but the two teams play eight more times this year, including the final three games of the regular season at Dodger Stadium.
"I hope we have it locked up long before then," Kershaw said. "But I have a feeling those three games might decide our season."
Matt Kemp extended his hitless streak to 19 at-bats Monday, a skid that has dropped his batting average drop from .359 to .333. Maybe that talk of a batting title was a tad premature after all. Mattingly isn't worried, but sees Kemp pressing a bit at the plate.
"I think he's been a little impatient swinging at a ball out of the strike zone. He got pounded a little bit in Pittsburgh," Mattingly said. "It seems like it's the first time it's been an extended period."
Kemp has killed lefties this season, hitting .413 (33-for-80) with nine home runs and 10 walks. But with three hitless at-bats against Bumgarner Monday (Kemp's other at-bat came against the right-handed Sergio Romo in the ninth), Kemp has one hit in his last 13 at-bats against southpaws.
While with the Marlins, Hanley Ramirez was 1-for-7 in his career against Romo, with a single and four strikeouts. With the Dodgers, Ramirez is 2-for-2 against Romo with two home runs, including his solo blast in the ninth inning Monday to pull the Dodgers within one.
Joe Blanton takes the mound for the Dodgers on Tuesday, in search of his first win as a Dodger. The Giants will counter with Lincecum.