On a night when Clayton Kershaw was not at his best early, the Diamondbacks failed to take advantage.
Behind more hitters than he would like, and walking lead-off hitter Ender Inciarte on four pitches, Kershaw managed to escape several innings in which the Diamondbacks failed to solve the left-hander. Still, Kershaw managed to hold Arizona at bay, recorded his major league-leading 16th victory and the Dodgers came away with a 3-1 triumph over the Diamondbacks before 28,394 in Chase Field.
With the victory, Kershaw moves to 16-3, the most wins by a pitcher in the majors. By yielding one, unearned run, his ERA dropped from 1.82 at the start of the game to a present 1.73.
After the Dodgers staked Kershaw to an early 3-0 lead, the Diamondbacks chipped away for a single unearned run in the fourth but left six runners on base through the opening five innings. In the end, Kershaw completed a reversal of fortune and pitched dominate baseball over his final four innings.
“He’s a tough dude to get anything,” Diamondbacks outfielder Mark Trumbo said of Kershaw. “He’s very deceptive and you have a difficult time making a split decision. He sets everything up with his fastball. We had some chances early and it sinks. You want to get the job done but you have to take your medicine sometimes.”
Through the first five innings, the Diamondbacks had seven runners reach base and had the bases loaded with one out in the third. That was the first time this season that Kershaw pitched with the bases loaded and here, Aaron Hill lined to short and Trumbo flied to left to end the inning.
Alone, Hill left five runners in his first three trips to the plate against Kershaw.
In the first and a runner on second with one out, Hill flied the left. In the third and the bases loaded and one out, Hill popped weakly to second and with a runner on third and one out in the fifth, Hill popped to short.
In all, the Diamondbacks had Kershaw on the ropes for a few innings, but the odds-on favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award was true to the test. Through the first five innings, the Diamondbacks were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and finished with that 2-for-11 for the game.
Over the first five innings, Kershaw managed to retire the side only once and did surrender that unearned run in the fourth. From that point, Kershaw showed why he is the dominant pitcher in the game.
“(Kershaw) has great deception,” echoed manager Kirk Gibson. “His pitches are tough to see and he comes at hitters with great speed.”
After Ender Inciarte opened the fifth with a triple, Kershaw retired the next 11 straight and then gave way to closer Kenley Jansen. Earning his 38th save of the season, Jansen retired the Diamondbacks in order to preserve the victory.
Arizona starter Wade Miley deserved a better fate. He gave up two key hits, both in the third, but that was enough to bring his season record down to 7-10. For his effort, Miley completed six innings, gave up seven hits, three runs, walked four, fanned six and tossed 100 pitches.
In the third, Matt Kemp doubled in two and Scott Van Slyke followed with his fifth career homer off of Miley to give Kershaw more than enough room.
“You have to go out and make pitches,” Miley said. “I didn’t make any adjustments early but I thought I did a decent job of battling. Too many mistakes and they took advantage.”
Still, Miley turned in his fourth quality start and since August 10, the left-hander has posted a 2.45 ERA in that time frame.
The home stand concludes with three against the Colorado Rockies.
On Friday night, right-hander Josh Collmenter (9-7, 4.05 ERA) gets the start for Arizona and goes against righty Christian Bergman (1-1, 6.75).
For Saturday, lefty Vidal Nuno (0-3, 3,54) opposes lefty Tyler Matzek (3-9, 5.14) This is also Alumni Night in which the Diamondbacks will hold their annual alumni softball game. The D-backs will also give-away Bob Brenley bobble-head to the first 20,000 in attendance. To honor the past, the Diamondbacks will wear their teal and gold throw-back uniforms.
On Sunday, right Chase Anderson (7-6, 3.90) goes against lefty Jorge De La Rosa (13-9, 4.19).
Then, the Diamondbacks depart on a 10-game road to San Diego, Los Angeles with the Dodgers and San Francisco.