This was the kind of the game the Dodgers have to win. This was the kind of game they haven't won.
Monday night, they did.
Playing at home with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the Dodgers reversed a two-run deficit to defeat the Chicago White Sox, 5-2.
The victory was significant, if only because what once felt like a guarantee for the Dodgers has ceased to be a given.
They have won only 13 times in their 30 games at Dodger Stadium. They came into this series against the White Sox having lost three times in Kershaw's last four starts.
"We needed this," Kershaw said.
Kershaw, who limited the White Sox to two runs and four hits over eight innings, improved to 4-2. The Dodgers moved to within seven games of the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
Kershaw was nearly perfect on this night, his only significant mistake coming in the fourth inning, when he served up a two-run home run to first baseman Jose Abreu.
'I thought Clayton was just dominant tonight," Manager Don Mattingly said.
Kershaw retired the first 10 batters he faced. He didn't allow a White Sox player to get into scoring position. He struck out nine.
But if not for some unintended help from the White Sox, the Dodgers might have wasted another solid pitching performance.
All five runs the Dodgers scored against starter Jose Quintana came in the sixth inning and all were unearned.
In other words, the Dodgers were presented with the rare opportunity to face a team with a defense as bad as theirs. The Dodgers and White Sox each began the game with 44 errors, tied for fourth-worst in the major leagues.
The White Sox made three errors Monday night, including two in the sixth inning.
That inning, Matt Kemp reached base on an error by second baseman Gordon Beckham. Later, with two outs and two men on, third baseman Conor Gillaspie had a chance to end the inning when he fielded a grounder by Hanley Ramirez. Gillaspie could have taken a few steps and touched third base for a force out, but instead made a throw to first base that sailed wide of Abreu. Kershaw scored on the play to close the Dodgers' deficit to 2-1.
Three more hits resulted in four more runs.
"That's what happens when you put balls in play," said third baseman Justin Turner, whose two-run bloop single moved the Dodgers in front, 4-2.
For Yasiel Puig and Erisbel Arruebarrena, the game was a chance to catch up with an old friend. Abreu, who hit his 16th home run on this day, was a teammate of theirs in Cuba. Abreu had been sidelined for the last 15 days because of tendinitis in his left ankle.
Arruebarrena picked up Abreu at the White Sox's hotel and they rode together to Dodger Stadium.
Puig and Abreu talked at the stadium, with a television camera and a Dodgers public relations official nearby.
"We all have to thank God for allowing us to be here," Abreu said in Spanish. "It's an unforgettable moment."
Even though the Dodgers and White Sox share a complex in Arizona, Puig and Abreu barely spoke in spring training.
"The only opportunity we had was before our teams faced each other in Arizona," Abreu said. "Today was the most time we've had. We hadn't seen each other in two years."
Abreu, who was once the most valuable player of the Cuban league, said Puig always played with a special flair.
"When he started playing for us in Cienfuegos, he played like that," Abreu said. "He's done well playing like that."
Tuesday will mark the one-year anniversary of Puig's first major league game.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times