Scott Kazmir had a complete turnaround from his last start, then struck out his most batters in a game in two and a half years, leading the Dodgers over the Reds 3-1 to complete a three-game series sweep on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Kazmir struck out 12 batters in his six innings, allowing just one run on four hits while walking two. The punchouts were one shy of his career high, and were his most in a start since striking out 12 Mets on Sept. 6, 2013 while with the Indians.
After walking a career-high seven in his last start, Kazmir called his performance "unacceptable" and vowed to improve, and boy did he. He only had one three-ball count in the first five innings on Wednesday, before walking two batters in the sixth. He was removed after 91 pitches.
The one run Kazmir did allow was nearly two, when Jay Bruce drove a ball just over the head of Joc Pederson in center field in the fourth inning. Brandon Phillips, who singled, scored easily on the play, and as Pederson remained on the ground, shaken up by the collision with the wall, Bruce tried for an inside-the-park home run. But a perfect relay throw home by Chase Utley scuttled that idea, nailing Bruce at the plate to keep the score 1-0 at the time.
Pederson seemed to point to his hip as he came to the dugout between innings but remained in the game, which was good news for the Dodgers since he drove home two runs with a bases loaded single in the bottom of the fourth.
Yasmani Grandal added an insurance run in the fifth inning with a solo home run, providing the final margin. It snapped a 2-for-37 skid since his last home run, which was on May 12.
Kenley Jansen retired the side in the ninth for his 14th save and 156th of his career, moving to within five saves of tying Eric Gagne's franchise record. Dodgers relievers retired all nine batters they faced on Wednesday night, one night after retiring all 10 batters they faced on Tuesday night.
On Monday night the bullpen wasn't needed thanks to Clayton Kershaw, and that's the anatomy of a sweep, giving the Dodgers nine straight wins over the Reds, dating back to 2015.
Reds starter Dan Straily took the loss, but was also quite effective, striking out 11 in his seven innings. Kazmir and Straily became just the fourth regular season duo to each strike out at least 11 batters in the same game at Dodger Stadium, and the first since June 12, 1969, when Grant Jackson of the Phillies (11 strikeouts) and Bill Singer of the Dodgers (12) did the same.
It did happen one time since then, but in the postseason. Jacob deGrom (13) and Kershaw (11) had high-strikeout games in Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS.
The Dodgers have Thursday off, their first off day in three weeks, then head on the 2015 NLCS road trip. First they face the Mets for three games in New York, with Alex Wood starting the series opener on Friday night, against deGrom for New York.
Home run: Yasmani Grandal (4)
WP - Scott Kazmir (4-3): 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts
LP - Dan Straily (2-2): 7 IP, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (14): 3 up, 3 down