The Dodgers won Kershaw’s previous 11 starts at Dodger Stadium, during which he had an 0.65 ERA and allowed a total of eight runs. The Giants got him for four runs on Monday.
That matched San Francisco’s most ever against Kershaw. This was just the fourth time in 37 career starts that Kershaw allowed four runs to San Francisco, against whom he has a 1.66 career ERA.
“Tonight, the late depth, the late bite or life to the slider that wasn’t there, uncharacteristic,” manager Dave Roberts said. “There were some sliders that were elevated. For the most part, that’s a pitch he can count on.”
With one out in the first inning, Pence deposited a curve ball from Kershaw into the left field pavilion for a quick 2-0 lead. Pence entered Monday just 7-for-70 (.100) in his career against Kershaw, with one walk, 17 strikeouts, and no extra-base hits.
Before his HR, Hunter Pence went 70 AB vs Clayton Kershaw w/out XBH - most such AB between any active pitcher & hitter, via @EliasSports— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 2, 2017
Kershaw threw a season-high 104 pitches but matched his season low by lasting six innings. He credited the Giants hitters.
“There were so many good at-bats, especially their 2-3-4 guys,” Kershaw said. “They don’t strike out, one of the few teams these days.
“Sometimes you can get through a game quick with a lot of contact, but other times like tonight they grind, and foul off pitches. Even when you get outs, it’s six- or seven-pitch at-bats.”
In the second inning, with Cody Bellinger on second base after a ground-rule double, Kershaw singled to left to bring him home and tie the score at 2-2. It was the first RBI by a Dodgers pitcher this season.
Johnny Cueto retired the next 13 batters he faced after the RBI single, but ran into some trouble in the seventh. The Dodgers grouped three singles together in the inning to slice their two-run deficit in half.
One of the hits was a shift-beating bunt single to third base by Bellinger, his second such bunt single in four days.
With closer Mark Melancon unavailable after pitching five times in the last seven days, Steven Okert (1⅔) and Derek Law (⅓) combined for the final six outs to close out the victory for San Francisco.
These two teams have played five times this year, with four one-run games and the other a 1-1 game in the 10th decided in the Dodgers’ final at-bat.
Pence and Posey each had one home run in April, then matched that on the first day of May.
Monday was just the 18th time in 269 career starts that Kershaw allowed multiple home runs. The Dodgers are 5-13 in those games.
It was only the eighth such game in 141 home starts, and the first since April 17, 2015 against the Rockies.
“It just wasn’t a great night,” Kershaw said.
Home runs: Hunter Pence (2), Buster Posey (2)
WP - Johnny Cueto (4-1): 7 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
LP - Clayton Kershaw (4-2): 6 IP, 8 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 5 strikeouts
Sv - Derek Law (1): ⅓ IP, 1 strikeout