A grand slam by Chris Heisey punctuated a six-run fifth-inning explosion to make a winner out of Clayton Kershaw, giving the Dodgers a 6-3 win over the Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
With the win, the Dodgers lowered their magic number to clinch the National League West down to four.
Heisey, the subject of Twitter scorn seemingly every time he is inserted into a game, entered Thursday hitting just .163/.338/.204, 8-for-49 on the season but with 14 walks. But when he hooked a ball inside the left field foul pole with the bases loaded off reliever Andrew Chafin with two outs in the fifth inning, Heisey turned a one-run Dodgers deficit into a three-run lead.
It was the first home run of the season for Heisey, but was such an immediately memorable moment that Vin Scully deadpanned as Heisey caught a fly ball in the sixth inning, "Grand Slam Heisey, they call him" without skipping a beat.
The home run was the fourth grand slam of the season for the Dodgers, joining Joc Pederson (May 1), Alex Guerrero (June 2) and Justin Ruggiano (Sept. 11).
On a sweltering day in Los Angeles, Kershaw labored in the second and third innings, allowing a run and three baserunners in each frame. The Diamondbacks completed their picket fence with a solo home run by Brandon Drury in the fourth inning, just the second time all season Kershaw allowed runs in three straight innings.
The other game in which Kershaw was scored upon in three straight innings was June 17 against the Rangers, a loss that Kershaw called at the time "probably the most frustrating game I've ever pitched, all things considered."
If Kershaw was frustrated three months ago, he was downright angry on Thursday, furious at getting pulled for a pinch hitter down 3-0 after just five innings and 80 pitches. Kershaw was seen on the television broadcast in a very heated conversation with manager Don Mattingly, unhappy with being removed from the game, with both actors playing their roles perfectly.
But while Kershaw was steaming in the dugout, the Dodgers offense was just getting cooking.
A one-out single was followed by two walks, then Howie Kendrick lined a single to center field to pull the Dodgers within a run at 3-2. After a Scott Van Slyke strikeout, A.J. Ellis walked to reload the bases, bringing up Heisey, who made the third base dugout very happy.
Bro hugs. pic.twitter.com/OP6RU5jGFV— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) September 24, 2015
One day after the Dodgers essentially had a bullpen game, using six pitchers to hold Arizona to one run over nine innings, LA used five relievers to back Kershaw on Thursday, combining for four more scoreless innings, with five strikeouts while allowing only four to reach base.
Climbing the ladder
Kershaw was limited to just five innings, snapping his streak of 31 consecutive quality starts at home, which dated back to Sept. 13, 2013, the longest streak since earned runs became an official statistic in 1912, per the Elias Sports Bureau. But that didn't stop him from racking up nine more strikeouts, giving Kershaw 281 on the season.
It is the most strikeouts in a season since Randy Johnson struck out 290 batters in 2004.
Paul Goldschmidt delivered the Diamondbacks second run of the game, an RBI single in the third inning, one of two hits on the day for the Arizona first baseman. It was the fifth straight game at Dodger Stadium that Goldschmidt has driven in a run. He ends his season hitting .397/.463/.808 with eight home runs and 19 RBI against the Dodgers.
That is one more RBI than Justin Upton, who will be in town with the Padres for the final weekend of the regular season. But it's not even Goldschmidt's high. The D-backs All-Star drove in 21 runs against the Dodgers in 2013.
The record for RBI against the Dodgers in one season is 32, by the great Willie Mays in 22 games in 1958.
The Dodgers won't have to face Goldschmidt again until April 12, 2016.
The Dodgers move on to Denver for a weekend series at Coors Field, with Mike Bolsinger starting the opener on Friday night. The Rockies will counter with David Hale.
Home runs: Chris Heisey (1); Brandon Drury (2)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (15-7): 5 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
LP - Patrick Corbin (6-5): 4⅓ IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (34): 1 IP, 1 strikeout