Alex Wood didn’t remind anyone of Clayton Kershaw on Friday night, but he didn’t have to.
Wood did enough to vault the Dodgers to a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, limiting the visitors to three runs and five hits in 61/3 innings.
The win was the first for Wood since he was acquired last month from the Atlanta Braves.
“It gives me some confidence to get my first win under my belt,” he said.
Was the performance Cy Young-worthy?
Adequate for a back-end starter?
Sure, especially with the rebuilding Reds starting a rookie pitcher for the 16th consecutive game.
The Reds’ starter on this night was John Lamb, who was making his major league debut. The Dodgers blasted him for five runs in six innings.
Lamb, 25, wasn’t in entirely unfamiliar territory. The left-hander is the grandson of the late John Ramsey, who was the public-address announcer for the Dodgers from 1958 to ’84.
Lamb pitched at Laguna Hills High and was a fifth-round selection by the Kansas City Royals in the 2008 draft. He was acquired by the Reds last month as part of the trade that sent Johnny Cueto to the Royals.
Justin Turner, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list the previous day, hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning that drove in Jimmy Rollins to tie the score, 1-1.
The Dodgers didn’t score again until the fifth inning, when they erupted for four runs.
The inning started with a walk to Joc Pederson and then a botched sacrifice bunt by Wood that resulted in a double play.
“You look at what happened right after,” Wood said, “that’s the sign of a really, really good ballclub.”
What followed were successive singles by Jimmy Rollins, Enrique Hernandez and Turner, with Turner’s hit driving in Rollins to move the Dodgers in front, 2-1.
Adrian Gonzalez opened up the game in the next at-bat, as he blasted a three-run home run off Lamb that increased the Dodgers’ advantage to 5-1. The home run was Gonzalez’s team-leading 23rd.
“Just looking fastball middle and he threw it middle-in,” Gonzalez said. “He was throwing a good game at the time. I happened to run into one.”
The four-run cushion was enough for Wood and the shaky Dodgers bullpen.
Wood allowed a run-scoring double to Votto in the first inning and was punished again by the first baseman in the sixth, when the Dodgers starter served up a two-run home run to the first baseman.
“He’s a real smart hitter,” Wood said.
Votto’s home run reduced the Dodgers’ edge to 5-3, but the Reds didn’t score again.
After retiring Brayan Pena to start the seventh inning, Wood was replaced by another recent acquisition, Jim Johnson.
Wood had thrown only 82 pitches, but Manager Don Mattingly said, “He got us where we needed to go.”
A third-inning comebacker by Brandon Phillips struck Wood on his right ankle, but the left-hander said he didn’t think it would present any problems in the future.
Johnson, who entered the game to a chorus of boos, faced two batters and got both of them out.
Pedro Baez pitched a perfect inning in the eighth and Kenley Jansen did the same in the ninth to record his 23rd save.
The game tempered some of the concerns about the Dodgers’ trade-deadline additions.
Wood’s quality start came a night after Mat Latos’ latest meltdown. Latos, who was acquired from the Miami Marlins, has allowed a combined 11 runs in 82/3 innings over his last two starts.
Wood said the start was the best of the three he has made for the Dodgers. Five days earlier in Pittsburgh, he gave three runs and five hits over five innings.
The night was also significant for Johnson, who was charged with 12 runs in his first 32/3 innings with the Dodgers. The scoreless appearance Friday was Johnson’s second in as many nights.
“Hopefully, we build off it,” Mattingly said.
Brett Anderson (6-7, 3.43 ERA) will make his 23rd start of the season when the Dodgers face the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Dodger Stadium. Anderson will pitch opposite Reds rookie left-hander David Holmberg (1-1, 3.06). TV: SportsNet LA; Radio: 570, 1020.