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Dodgers lose Clayton Kershaw, but sweep Giants behind Mookie Betts

Kershaw left after 4 innings with lo back pain

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Dodgers allowed only ten runs in a four-game sweep of the Giants, the first such sweep for Los Angeles in San Francisco since July 1-4, 1977. Mookie Betts and Trea Turner homered in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win on getaway day Thursday afternoon, but Los Angeles also lost Clayton Kershaw to a back injury.

Kershaw allowed two runs, one of them earned, in four innings, both runs coming on a two-run home run for J.D. Davis, San Francisco’s main trade-deadline acquisition. Davis hit a changeup, just the 11th thrown by Kershaw all season, and only the third put into — or, in this case, out of — play.

Mike Yastrzemski finished off the third inning with a flyout to shallow center, marking the 10,000th batter Kershaw faced in the regular season in his career. But Kershaw faced only three more batters, walking off the field with head trainer Thomas Albert during warm-up pitches in the fifth.

The Dodgers announced later in the game that Kershaw exited with low back pain.

Decisions, decisions

The top of the fourth inning featured each team making a choice that made sense in context but ended up not working out. After Joey Gallo got his first hit as a Dodger, a shift-busting grounder through the vacated third base side of the infield, Gavin Lux doubled to right field. Gallo was sent home by third base coach Dino Ebel, only to be cut down by a throw from Mike Yastrzemski and perfect relay from Wilmer Flores.

There were no outs when Ebel sent Gallo, but you also have to factor in Cody Bellinger and James Outman were due up next, and that the Giants defense has been terrible all season, one of the drivers of their sub-.500 record. Don’t believe me? Just ask Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, who has watched San Francisco not make plays all season.

Even after the out, the Dodgers still had a runner in scoring position with one out, and after Outman walked they had two on with two outs with Mookie Betts due up.

That’s when Gabe Kapler walked to the mound with a hook for Jakob Junis after two full times through the batting order. This wasn’t necessarily the case of a starter being babied, as Junis lasted at least five innings in eight of his first nine games before missing a month with a left-hamstring strain.

Thursday marked just the third start back off the injured list for Junis, and in his previous two starts he faced 17 and 18 batters, recording 13 and 12 outs. So facing 18 batters while recording 11 outs wasn’t out of the ordinary in this one.

But Junis did leave two runners on for reliever John Brebbia, who threw two sliders to Mookie Betts before trying a fastball, only to see it get hammered 404 feet into the left center field stands, turning a one-run deficit into a two-run advantage.

What a relief

After Kershaw left, the Dodgers got nearly spotless relief from four different pitchers. Phil Bickford, Chris Martin, Caleb Ferguson, and Alex Vesia combined to allow only a hit and a walk over four innings, retired a combined ten batters in a row at one point.

Then Craig Kimbrel had the ninth with the gutter bumpers of a three-run lead and still couldn’t pitch a clean frame. He allowed a double and wild-pitched in a run before striking out Tommy La Stella to end it.

During the four-game sweep, the Dodgers bullpen allowed two runs in 17 innings, with 17 different one-inning appearances.

Thursday particulars

Home runs: Mookie Betts (25), Trea Turner (18); J.D. Davis (5)

WP — Chris Martin (2-0): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

LP — Jakob Junis (4-3): 3⅔ IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Sv — Craig Kimbrel (20): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 strikeout

Up next

The Dodgers return home to Dodger Stadium, where Friday will bring a pregame celebration of Vin Scully, who died on Tuesday at age 94. Once the game starts, it’ll be Tony Gonsolin starting for the Dodgers against a new-look Padres lineup that added Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Brandon Drury. Left-hander Sean Manaea starts on the mound for San Diego.