Dodgers defeat San Francisco Giants: Kershaw, Kemp star


Clayton Kershaw became the first MLB pitcher to win nineteen games this season, out-dueling Yusmeiro Petit and the San Francisco Giants Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park, 4-2, under warm, sunny skies, as the Dodgers took the first of two series to be played in the month of September. Matt Kemp hit the deciding two-run home run in the sixth inning to carry LA to a three-game lead in the NL West.

Kershaw came into the game leading all of MLB in winning percentage (.857), ERA (1.67), complete games (6), pitches/inning (13.6), WHIP (walks + hits per inning; 0.82), opponents’ average (.188), and strikeouts (210). Having grown up watching Sandy Koufax, I never thought I would see him bested. Kershaw has the upper hand in this graybeard’s opinion. I tip my cap to him every time out. He came into the game 12-5 against the Giants with a minuscule ERA of 1.40.

Yusmeiro Petit (5-3, 3.62 ERA with 110 K’s and 18 walks coming into Sunday’s game), was dialed in and was so effective in his pitch location early on, that you could see the strike zone expand, particularly the outside corner to right-handed batters. Plate umpire Doug Eddings rang up Puig and Carl Crawford in the first four innings on outside pitches that seemed to only be strikes in an expanded zone, while Pagan suffered the same fate in the third.

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Yusmeiro Petit (52) went seven innings for the Giants Sunday afternoon, giving up four runs, two of them earned, on seven hits. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers scored first in the second inning when Hanley Ramirez, 5-7 in the series coming into the game, beat out a slow roller to Joaquin Arias at short. Arias made a great bare-handed pickup and throw, but there was no way to beat the fleet Ramirez. Carl Crawford flied out to Hunter Pence in right for the first out of the inning and Juan Uribe hit a single into short right field that Pence fielded cleanly and threw quickly into third.

With eight assists this season, Pence has made this throw and gunned down runners at third all season. This time the ball sailed wide, bounced in front of Pablo Sandoval and got past, only to be retrieved by Petit, whose throw to the plate hit the sliding Ramirez and went through to the backstop. Both Pence and Petit were charged with errors and the run was unearned. Before the dust had settled, Uribe was on third and he scored the second unearned run on A.J. Ellis’ sacrifice fly. Kershaw struck out to end the inning.

Andrew Susac’s double with two outs in the second was the only sound the Giants’ bats made until there was one out in the third. With Gregor Blanco on with a walk, Petit had the at-bat of the game up until that point, when he drew a walk off of Kershaw.  

It wasn’t the base-on-balls so much that pumped up both the crowd and the Giants’ bench, as the fact that his was a nine-pitch success. Pagan followed Petit’s at-bat by being called out on strikes, a call he argued vehemently-albeit briefly-before returning to the dugout. Against a different umpire than Doug Eddings, Pagan could very well have been ejected from the game. 

Joe Panik followed with an 0-2 knock into right field, bringing Buster Posey to the plate. Posey did what the great ones do and hit a ball into the left-center field gap that Puig cut off and made a brilliant, one-hop peg to second, gunning down the sheepish Posey and ending the inning. 

The expression on Posey’s face, as the tag was applied, made it clear he knew just how devastating the blunder was. Sometimes the great ones slip back into being mere mortal. Pence got the chance in the seventh to redeem himself, and this time gunned Kershaw out at second base to end the inning.

Petit retired ten in a row until Adrian Gonzalez doubled with one out in the sixth. Matt Kemp put the Dodgers out in front for good by hitting one out for the deciding two runs the Dodgers would need to complete the series victory. There was no late-inning drama as Dodger pitching retired the final seven batters, Henley Jansen getting his 42nd save by pitching the ninth inning.

Matt Kemp hit the two run homer that was the difference in the game. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

For the Giants in the seventh, with one out, Susac (2 for 3 off Kershaw) singled down the left-field line and Arias (also 2 for 3 off Kershaw) hit one down the right field line. After Blanco struck out, Matt Duffy, pinch-hitting for Petit, hit a bloop into no-man’s land between Puig and Gordon, and it fell. Charging in from center field, Puig ended up getting tangled up with Gordon and went down fairly hard. Neither appeared injured and both remained in the game. Angel Pagan grounded out to third base to end the threat.

Buster Posey came into the game batting .312, good enough for third in the National League and went one for four, with the one RBI. Posey’s career .338 average against left-handed pitching is the fourth-best among active players with a minimum of 500 at-bats. It was the reserves,  however, Susac, Arias and Duffy, who provided the biggest punch for the Giants.

Dee Gordon came into the game with 60 steals, having been caught 17 times. He got a great jump in the top of the first and easily stole second off of Andrew Susac, whose throw down was high and probably not in time anyway. Make that 61 steals. 

Immediately after the steal, Petit picked Gordon off of second base, but Don Mattingly challenged the call and won. Replays that were shown on CSNBA were unclear, but the Dodgers won that round. 

Both of the first two games of the series unfolded in unpredictable style so it was gratifying to see an old-fashioned, tense game between these two rivals. Tempers remained in check, despite Jeremy Affeldt hitting Adrian Gonzalez with an errant curve ball in the eighth, and Kemp took a called third strike to end the inning. 

The victory by the Dodgers was bitter enough without the knowledge that it was Hunter Pence who threw the ball away, and Buster Posey, who ran the Giants out of a run-producing rally. Pence, the ever-hustling/overachieving right fielder for the Giants, cost the team two runs today and Posey, the face of the franchise, cut the rally short. That being said, their mistakes come few and far between, and I can’t fault them for trying to make something happen.

Fortunately, the Giants go down to LA for another shot a week from Monday. One year ago today, the Giants scored nineteen runs down south against the Dodgers, just before LA advanced to the playoffs. The Giants do not have to score nineteen runs to make a statement in Los Angeles.

And there is a week in between in which the oddest things can happen. It is baseball, after all.