Dodgers manage comeback after bullpen blows lead in 4-3 win over Padres

Clayton Kershaw is masterful but Dodgers have to come back against Padres after Yimi Garcia blows lead

The players on the Dodgers bench froze. The fans in the stadium gasped. A comebacker traveling at more than 100 mph had struck Clayton Kershaw on his left hip.

About the only person at Petco Park who didn't look concerned was Kershaw.

With the wave of a hand, Kershaw signaled to an approaching team trainer to return to the dugout.

Kershaw wasn't about to be knocked out of a game by a first-inning line drive from Justin Upton. As the San Diego Padres learned over the course of Friday night, there was little that could be done to stop Kershaw.

Except maybe the Dodgers.

In a 4-3 victory that included a blown lead by the bullpen and an eighth-inning comeback for the Dodgers, Kershaw delivered another masterful performance.

If not for his team temporarily imploding shortly after his seventh-inning departure, Kershaw would have extended his personal winning streak to four starts. Over 6 2/3 innings, Kershaw limited the Padres to one run and four hits. He struck out 11 and walked three.

The Padres didn't score on him until the seventh inning, when Clint Barmes hit a solo home run to left field.

The performance has become something of the norm in recent weeks for Kershaw, who was 2-3 with a 4.32 earned-run average through his first nine starts of the season.

In his last four starts, Kershaw has posted a 0.94 ERA. Over that period, Kershaw has struck out 39 batters in 28 2/3 innings.

What changed?

"I don't think it's a whole lot different, honestly," said Manager Don Mattingly.

Mattingly said he was never bothered by Kershaw's early-season results.

"There's no reason to worry," Mattingly said. "His stuff's good."

And, as far as Kershaw's mind-set was concerned, Mattingly said, "Nothing really changes with him."

About the only real drama Kershaw encountered was in the first inning, when he was hit by Upton's comebacker. Upton reached base on what was ruled an infield single and Kershaw walked the next batter, Matt Kemp. But Kershaw forced Yangervis Solarte to pop up to end the inning.

After Upton, the next Padres player to reach scoring position was Solarte, who doubled with two outs in the sixth inning. Kershaw ended the threat by forcing Will Middlebrooks to ground out.

By then, the Dodgers were leading, 2-0.

Adrian Gonzalez's two-out single in the third inning drove in Joc Pederson for their first run.

A.J. Ellis doubled the lead in the fourth inning, when his single drove in Justin Turner.

This marked the fifth consecutive start by Kershaw that was caught by Ellis instead of the team's primary catcher, Yasmani Grandal. Kershaw had pitched seven or more innings in each of the previous four starts, including a season-high eight innings six days earlier in a victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

On this night, Kershaw was prevented from reaching the seven-inning benchmark by a solo home run by Barmes.

Mattingly allowed Kershaw to retire one more batter, pinch-hitter Cory Spangenberg, before replacing him with right-hander Yimi Garcia.

With Garcia on the mound and Turner at first base, the Dodgers were about to encounter a near-disaster.

Turner was at first base as a replacement for Gonzalez, who was ejected after grounding into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning. Gonzalez appeared to be upset about the first pitch of the at-bat, which was clearly outside but called for a strike by home plate umpire Doug Eddings.

Garcia forced Wil Myers to pop up in the infield, but no one caught it, as Garcia and Turner ran into each other. Myers reached second base on the play, for which Turner was charged with an error.

The next batter, Derek Norris, blasted a two-run home run. Suddenly, the Dodgers were down, 3-2.

They didn't trail for long.

The Dodgers reclaimed the lead by scoring twice in the eighth inning, as Turner singled in Howie Kendrick and pinch-hitter Alex Guerrero drove home Andre Ethier.

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