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Kiké Hernandez gives Dodgers win on walk-off balk

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers continued their recent trend of starting slow, but they finished strong on Thursday night. Sort of. Kiké Hernandez wreaked havoc down the third base line, drawing a game-ending balk by Keone Kela for a 1-0 win over the Rangers, salvaging one of the four-game, home-and-home set.

Yasmani Grandal walked to open the bottom of the ninth inning, then was replaced by the pinch runner Hernandez. Andre Ethier followed by drawing a four-pitch walk against Kela, who picked up his first major league save the night before.

That set up Alberto Callaspo, who reached base twice previously on the night with a walk and a single. But he grounded into a 3-6-3 double play, leaving Hernandez at third with two outs. Then, with Jimmy Rollins at the plate, Hernandez darted down the line, causing Kela to flinch, drawing the balk call from home plate umpire Marvin Hudson.

The Dodgers last won on a walk-off balk on May 31, 2010, with Casey Blake at third and Esmerling Vasquez on the mound.

In the locker room, Hernandez first swept through in passing, joking to reporters, "Sorry guys, I'm still tired from trying to steal home."

The Dodgers haven't scored before the sixth inning since Saturday in San Diego, a span of five games. But they improved to 24-5 when scoring first this season, no matter how late it might have been.

Zack Greinke was outstanding, striking out eight in his seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA on the season to 1.81. He allowed just four singles and no walks, thought he did hit a batter, and got eight ground ball outs.

At just 89 pitches, Greinke could have pitched another one or two innings, but with a scoreless tie adding to the Dodgers' paucity of runs lately, Greinke was pinch hit for in the bottom of the seventh with two runners on base. However, Justin Turner's soft fly to shallow center was caught and not anywhere deep enough to score the runner.

Joc Pederson followed with a fly out to right field to end the seventh inning, the second time in the game that the Dodgers stranded a runner at third.

Greinke improved to a 1.99 ERA in his last eight starts, with 49 strikeouts and only eight walks during that span. But he has nary a win to show for it, 0-2 during that span.

Anthony Ranaudo was called up to make a spot start for the Rangers, and on Thursday he was nearly spotless. He matched zeroes with Greinke, and struck out four in his 6⅔ innings.

Kenley Jansen struck out two in a scoreless ninth to earn his second win of the season.

Thursday particulars

Home runs: none

WP - Kenley Jansen (2-0): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

LP - Keone Kela (4-4): ⅔ IP, 1 run, 2 walks