The Dodgers welcomed back a pair of left-handers on Sunday night, as both Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw returned to help the Dodgers to a 5-3 win over the Reds in the finale of their three-game series at the Great American Ball Park.
With the win, the Dodgers remained three games behind the Cardinals with nine games to play. During the win, the Dodgers were busy snapping a series of streaks.
Gonzalez homered in his first plate appearance as a Dodger way back on Aug. 25, but hadn't homered since then, in a span of 115 plate appearances and 25 full games without a home run. But he led off the second inning with a home run to right field for a 1-0 lead, then did the same in the seventh inning.
Then again, perhaps this could have been foretold as Gonzalez is now hitting .533 (8-for-15) against Homer Bailey with five home runs and two doubles. Gonzalez had the fourth two-homer game by a Dodger this season, joining Matt Kemp, A.J. Ellis, and Hanley Ramirez.
The Dodgers won a series for the first time since Aug. 24-26, which also happened to be the last time Gonzalez homered.
Juan Uribe made his first appearance in a game since August 26 when he pinch hit for Kershaw in the sixth inning. Uribe, who sat out the last 24 games with the baseball equivalent of DNP-CD, singled in his lone plate appearance and has singled in his last two at-bats.
A.J. Ellis snapped his 0-for-30 skid with a double in the ninth inning, his first hit since September 9. When Ellis reached second base, he looked up to the sky, let out a sigh of relief, then smiled toward the Dodgers dugout.
But perhaps the most important streak snapped was by Kershaw, who ended his skid of 11 days without pitching. He was very rusty, as he walked five batters for the first time since April 16, 2011, just one free pass shy of his career high. But Kershaw was able to wiggle hit way out of trouble, as he allowed just one run in his five innings of work.
Kershaw stranded the bases loaded in both the first and fourth innings, and allowed his lone run in the third inning when Todd Frazier singled to center to cash in one of Kershaw's walks to tie the game at 1-1. It was during Frazier's at-bat when Orel Hershiser on the ESPN broadcast described the effect of Kershaw's hip injury on his mechanics:
"We're watching Clayton Kershaw throw a lot of balls to the right-handed batters box, or away to Votto, or inside to righties. That right hip, as it gets a little fatigued, his upper body is going to take over and it's going to over-rotate over that hip and he's going to start pulling pitches like he is. It's just that little less bracing that makes the upper body go too far and...instead of that arm speed being braced against that front leg and having some direction, there is less bracing on that front side. The arm and the upper body take over, and you happen to pull the ball to your glove side. So if he's not putting as much weight on it or using as much strength in that front leg for direction, his mechanics will make him start pulling the ball to his glove side."
Kershaw also struck out five to give him 211 on the season to lead the National League, two more than R.A. Dickey of the Mets.
The Dodgers tacked on three insurance runs in the seventh inning to give themselves a cushion, but in the process lost Ramirez. The shortstop fouled a ball off his left ankle or shin, but stayed in the game after getting visited at the plate by team trainers. Ramirez singled to left field to start the rally, but gave way to pinch runner Dee Gordon.
Gordon stayed in the game at shortstop, his first time in the field for the Dodgers since July 4, also against the Reds. He made a rather memorable error in the eighth inning, airmailing a throw over Gonzalez's head and into the stands. Gordon also made an errant throw with two outs in the ninth inning, but Gonzalez caught it and tagged a passing Todd Frazier to end the game.
- Kenley Jansen walked a batter in the seventh inning, but struck out the other three men he faced. He has pitched three scoreless appearances since his return, with four strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings.
- Elian Herrera, who made his first start for the Dodgers since July 8, walked in the second inning to extend his streak to six consecutive plate appearances reaching base (two hits, three walks, one hit-by-pitch) since getting recalled this month. Herrera then went 0-for-3 to snap the streak.
- Ronald Belisario allowed a two-run home run to Denis Phipps in the eighth, the first major league home run for Phipps. It marked the first earned run allowed by Belisario since August 13, snapping a streak of 17 games and 20 innings.
- Despite a reasonable 3.68 ERA from their starters in the last 19 games, the Dodgers haven't gotten a win from their starters during that span, including Sunday night. The last win by a Dodgers starter came on September 1, when Josh Beckett beat the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers have scored just 2.84 runs per game during that span.
- The Dodgers are 39-39 on the road this season.
- The Dodgers' elimination number is seven.
The Dodgers are off Monday, heading to San Diego for their final road series of the year. Potential National League wild card game starter Edinson Volquez for the Padres.gets the call on the mound for the Dodgers Tuesday night, facing opening day starter
Home Runs: Adrian Gonzalez 2 (18)
WP - Shawn Tolleson (3-1): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
LP - Homer Bailey (12-10): 6 2/3 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Sv - Brandon League (14): 1 IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout