The desperation of the
You could see it in the fourth inning, when he roared at his dugout after his double continued a four-run rally. You could see it again in the sixth, when Kershaw maintained a lead in a 5-3 victory by striking out former teammate
After 11 defeats in a row, the lengthiest stretch of uninterrupted ineptitude since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, the team managed to win a game. They did so against a last-place team by a slim margin. No matter: A win, as the saying goes, is a win.
"Nothing about these past two weeks has been easy," said Kershaw (17-3). "So we shouldn't have expected this one to be easy."
With the victory, the Dodgers clinched a playoff spot. The magic number to win the
The Dodgers grabbed the lead in the fourth after a homer by
The ending was harrowing. Kenley Jansen loaded the bases in the ninth on a series of well-placed singles before closing the door. He pounded his chest after striking out
"We certainly made it interesting tonight," manager Dave Roberts said.
The Dodgers had hoped Kershaw could end the streak last week. Instead, pitching for the second time since a five-week absence caused by his strained back, Kershaw yielded four runs and could not complete the fourth inning against Colorado. He still showed rust Tuesday, giving up eight hits. Yet the details could not offset the relief unleashed by a victory.
Roberts stressed Tuesday afternoon the illogical nature of blaming only one or two players. The malaise has spread across the entire roster. The group deserves blame, Roberts insisted. But
The game found the duo in the top of the third, with runners in scoring position. Up came Granderson.
Cueto spotted a slider inside for one strike. Grandal stared at a belt-high fastball for strike two. Three pitches later, he swung through an elevated fastball that looked outside the zone. The Dodgers stranded seven runners in the first three innings.
In the bottom of the third, Kershaw threw a pair of balls to Giants shortstop Kelby Tomlinson. Kershaw turned to his most reliable weapon — an inside fastball. The choice seemed safe: Tomlinson had not homered in a big league game since Oct. 3, 2015.
Kershaw looked bewildered after Tomlinson made contact. The ball soared into the left-field seats for the third homer of Tomlinson's career.
The Dodgers found an answer in the fourth. They had gone nearly three weeks without formulating an inning like this.
It started with Utley. He clobbered a 3-1 fastball over the bricks in right field and into McCovey Cove to tie the score.
Kershaw extended the rally. The Giants aided his cause. As Kershaw ripped a liner into left field, outfielder Austin Slater lost track of the baseball in the lights. Slater came up empty. Kershaw sprinted to second.
The Dodgers benefited from more mistakes by San Francisco.
The Giants elected to intentionally walk Cody Bellinger with two outs. A 3-2 changeup floated over the middle to Puig. He banged it off the wall in left-center to bring home two more runs.
Kershaw needed the cushion. The Giants pestered him throughout the evening. Hundley led off the bottom of the fourth with a double, but was cut down at the plate by Taylor after a two-out single by Tomlinson.
In the sixth, Kershaw wobbled once more. He permitted singles by
A sacrifice fly by Calixte cut the Dodgers' lead to two. Tomlinson vexed Kershaw once more by taking a walk to load the bases. Kershaw managed to disarm the threat. Federowicz swung over a pair of sliders before whiffing on a curveball to preserve the lead.
"It was a full team effort," Kershaw said. "That was so cool."