Clayton Kershaw’s 400th career start marred by back-to-back homers in Dodgers’ loss

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning Friday. Kershaw gave up back-to-back home runs to Arizona in a 6-3 loss.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Clayton Kershaw gave up back-to-back home runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 6-3 loss Friday night.

Clayton Kershaw struggles in Dodgers’ loss to Diamondbacks

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw walks off the field with his hand over his face.
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw walks off the field after the sixth inning of a 6-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Over the course of 400 career starts, Clayton Kershaw was bound to develop a few bad trends.

And as he reached his latest milestone moment Friday night, becoming just the 34th pitcher in big league history to make 400 starts with the same team, one of his shortcomings returned.

As has been the case in most of his 22 trips to Chase Field, Kershaw struggled in the desert in a 6-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In six innings, the left-hander gave up four runs and seven hits. It was the last two, however, that left him shaking his head.

The Dodgers’ bullpen has been far from dominant early this season, but manager Dave Roberts says it’s encouraging the group is still productive.

April 7, 2023

With the Dodgers leading 3-2 through five innings — thanks to a sacrifice fly from J.D. Martinez and solo home runs by James Outman and Chris Taylor — Kershaw gave up back-to-back blasts to lead off the sixth.

The first was a down-and-in slider that Evan Longoria sent up and out to left field. The next came on a fastball to Arizona rookie Corbin Carroll, who launched a solo drive.

“I did a lot of things I shouldn’t, especially when your team grinds and gives you the lead like that,” Kershaw said. “The first couple innings, they got some runs, some ground-ball hits, some things you really can’t do a whole lot about. But those homers there to give up the lead, you’ve got to do better than that.”

With Friday’s loss, Kershaw’s career ERA at Chase Field climbed to 3.91 — trailing only Coors Field in Denver and PNC Park in Pittsburgh for the highest mark in his career (minimum three outings).

David Peralta, right, looks back at umpire Alfonso Marquez after being called out on strikes in the eighth inning.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Is there an extra challenge for Kershaw pitching in Arizona’s hitter-friendly stadium?

“No,” he said flatly.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ take?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve seen him pitch well in the desert, as far as spring training, so it’s the same climate, altitude, air.”

Whatever the cause, it proved costly on a night in which the Dodgers went quiet in four-plus innings against Arizona’s bullpen — including a squandered bases-loaded opportunity in the fifth — and saw their three-game winning streak come to an end.


Diamondbacks extend lead on Nick Ahmed’s single

⚾ Diamondbacks 6, Dodgers 3 — End of the eighth

Arizona extended its lead on a pair of run-scoring hits off Dodgers reliever Yency Almonte.

Evan Longoria hit a standup double and advanced to third on a ground out from Corbin Carroll. He then scored on a soft bouncer off the bat of Nick Ahmed that was too much for charging Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy to field with his bare hand.

On the next at-bat Gabriel Moreno doubled to score Ahmed, ending Almonte’s night. Shelby Miller got Alek Thomas to pop out and send the game into the ninth.

In the top half of the inning, the Dodgers couldn’t muster much against reliever Miguel Castro.

David Peralta, pinch hitting for Trayce Thompson, took a called third strike before Castro struck out James Outman on four pitches.

After Chris Taylor drew L.A.’s eighth walk of the game, Austin Barnes then hit a short blooper that Castro quickly fielded and threw to first for the third out.


Brusdar Graterol retires the Diamondbacks in order

⚾ Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3 — End of the seventh inning

Brusdar Graterol relieved Clayton Kershaw and mowed through the Diamondbacks in order, striking out Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on a 99-mph sinker to end the inning.


Evan Longoria and Corbin Carroll blast Arizona into lead

⚾ Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3 — Bottom of the sixth

Clayton Kershaw gave up back-to-back home runs to Evan Longoria and Corbin Carroll to give the Diamondbacks their first lead of the game. The home runs came on Arizona’s first at-bats of the inning.

After the home runs, Kershaw retired the next three batters he faced, but his night likely is over. He allowed seven hits, four earned runs, walked two and struck out four over 91 pitches.

The Dodgers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the frame, with Arizona left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. making a sliding grab on a liner off the bat of Freddie Freeman.


Dodgers hold onto one-run lead going into the sixth

⚾ Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 2 — End of the fifth

J.D. Martinez led off with a singled to left before Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner ended his night with back-to-back walks to Trayce Thompson and James Outman to load the bases.

Reliever Drey Jameson then got Chris Taylor to ground out to short to end the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, Clayton Kershaw retired the Diamondbacks in order, striking out Kyle Lewis for his third strikeout of the night.


Dodgers jump back into lead on Chris Taylor home run

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 2 — End of the fourth

Chris Taylor led off the fourth with a solo home run off Madison Bumgarner to push the Dodgers back into the lead.

Taylor’s homer was a 416-foot smash over the left-field wall. Two of Taylor’s three hits this season have been home runs.

Alek Thomas grounded out into a double play as part of a 1-2-3 inning for the Dodgers.


Diamondbacks and Dodgers tied heading into the fourth inning

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner speaks with catcher Gabriel Moreno.
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner, left, speaks with catcher Gabriel Moreno during the first inning.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

⚾ Dodgers 2, Diamondbacks 2 — End of the third

Arizona’s Corbin Carroll hit a run-scoring single off Clayton Kershaw to tie the game.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. walked and advanced to third on an Evan Longoria single to right field. Gurriel then scored on Carroll’s grounder to second.

Kershaw has looked a little shaky so far, giving up four hits and two walk while striking out two over 51 pitches.


James Outman hits solo home run to give Dodgers the lead

James Outman (33) celebrates with Freddie Freeman, left, and his Dodgers teammates after hitting a solo home run.
James Outman (33) celebrates with Freddie Freeman, left, and his Dodgers teammates after hitting a solo home run in the second inning.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

⚾ Dodgers 2, Diamondbacks 1 — End of the second

Rookie James Outman hit his second home run of the season, crushing a Madison Bumgarner first-pitch fastball 416 feet into right field to put the Dodgers back ahead.

Outman continues to be one of the revelations for a Dodgers team that will be leaning on rookies and new names to carry their 2023 aspirations.

After Mookie Betts drew a walk and Freddie Freeman singled, Madison Bumgarner struck out J.D. Martinez to end the frame.


Diamondbacks strike back to tie game in first inning

⚾ Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 1 — End of the first

Arizona’s Ketel Marte scored from third on a high-hopper down the first-base line from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to tie the game.

Marte led off with a standup double to deep center field off Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. A hard-hit ball off the bat of Kyle Lewis was too hot for Freddie Freeman to handle, putting two on for the Diamondbacks before Gurriel’s run-scoring ground out.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw stranded two runners after getting Corbin Carroll to fly out to right.


Mookie Betts scores quick run to give Dodgers early lead

Mookie Betts celebrates after leading off the game with a double on Friday.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

⚾ Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 0 — Top of the first

Mookie Betts scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by J.D. Martinez to give the Dodgers an early lead.

Betts led off with a lead-off double that went over the head of sprinting center fielder Alek Thomas. A passed ball off the glove of catcher Gabriel Moreno allowed Betts to advance to third.

After Freddie Freeman lined out to left, Martinez drove the ball deep enough off Arizona starter Madison Bumgarner to make it relatively easy for Betts to score.

Bumgarner then walked Max Muncy and Miguel Vargas before getting Trayce Thompson out on a called third strike to end the inning. Thompson hit a grand slam off Bumgarner last week.


Evan Phillips looking like Dodgers’ de facto closer, even if they won’t outright say it

Evan Phillips shakes hands with catcher Will Smith after a game.
Evan Phillips has appeared in each of the Dodgers ninth-inning save opportunities this year.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — The Dodgers might not be calling Evan Phillips their designated closer. But they sure seem to be treating the right-hander like one.

Both times a save situation has arisen in the ninth inning this year, Phillips has been the pitcher summoned to finish the game. And while manager Dave Roberts stopped short of giving the 28-year-old the official title on Friday, he acknowledged that on nights the team has its full complement of relievers available, the preference is to save Phillips for the ninth.

“Evan is clearly the most consistent performer, versus left, versus right,” Roberts said. “What that means day to day, when he’s available, he’s probably going to be in the highest leverage. So I would say he’s probably going to finish more games, close more games than any of our guys now.”

Roberts noted that Phillips hasn’t started the season “throwing the ball as well as he’s going to” despite his spotless ERA, but quickly added that “he’s just good enough that he can withstand that,” even as he tries to regain the velocity and life he had on his fastball during a breakout 2022 performance.

There are still some situations in which Phillips could appear before the ninth inning. For now, however, it appears the Dodgers will look for ways to bridge the rest of the bullpen to the ninth inning first — continuing to operate with Phillips as their de facto closer even if they aren’t outright saying it.


Miguel Vargas (thumb) returns to Dodgers lineup; Miguel Rojas (groin) still out

Los Angeles Dodgers' Miguel Vargas arrives for a spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics.
Miguel Vargas warms up before a spring game against the Oakland Athletics on March 9.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — Miguel Vargas will play on Friday night for the first time since in four days, with a thumb injury he sustained on a hit-by-pitch finally subsiding.

Miguel Rojas (groin) still isn’t back in the lineup yet, forcing Chris Taylor to fill in at shortstop for the fourth straight game, but could be available off the bench if needed and will be re-evaluated again on Saturday, according to manager Dave Roberts.

The Dodgers made a couple other changes to their lineup with left-hander Madison Bumgarner set to start for the Diamondbacks. Trayce Thompson replaced David Peralta in the outfield. And Austin Barnes will get the start behind the plate, with Will Smith getting an off day.

Here is the full lineup:

In other injury news Friday, Tony Gonsolin threw a pregame bullpen session at Chase Field that received praise from Roberts. The outing came a couple days after Gonsolin — who has missed the start of the season with a sprained ankle — struggled in a live BP at Camelback Ranch. His next step remains TBD.

The returns of relievers Daniel Hudson (recovery from ACL surgery) and Jimmy Nelson (recovery from Tommy John surgery) still don’t seem imminent. Hudson threw a bullpen on Thursday, Roberts said, but needs to see how his body responds before the team determines his next step. Nelson, meanwhile, is still struggling to regain his pre-surgery fastball velocity.


Dodgers ‘still trying to find our footing’ with bullpen performances, late-game plan

Dodgers relief pitcher Evan Phillips throws during the ninth inning of a 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers relief pitcher Evan Phillips throws during the ninth inning of a 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — A few feet here, a checked swing there, and the Dodgers might have suffered a very different fate Thursday night at Chase Field.

So went the performance of their surprisingly unsteady bullpen, which flirted with disaster in the team’s 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks and continued to serve as an unexpected source of early season questions.

Coming into the campaign, the biggest unknown on the back end was how the Dodgers would handle ninth innings, with the team declining to pick a designated closer at the end of spring training.

Read more >>>


Dodgers get clutch hitting, strong Dustin May outing to beat Arizona

Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May delivers against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning Thursday.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

PHOENIX — The Dodgers are developing an important skill early on this season: Scoring runs with two outs.

In a 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, all of the Dodgers’ runs came in such situations, giving the team just enough breathing room to survive some late-game scrambling in the bullpen.

Chris Taylor opened the scoring with an RBI single in the second. The Dodgers extended their lead in the third on an Arizona error and a J.D. Martinez double.

James Outman added a two-out single of his own in the sixth, part of a two-hit performance that extended his season-opening on-base streak to six games.

Then Freddie Freeman hit his first home run of the season in the seventh, opening up a 5-1 lead after Dustin May’s six-inning, one-run gem.

Read more >>>


Dodgers TV schedule for the 2023 regular season

Here’s a look at the Dodgers TV schedule for the 2023 regular season. All times and broadcast/streaming options are subject to change.