The Los Angeles Dodgers were trending toward a 12th consecutive loss before Chase Utley and Clayton Kershaw provided a spark in the fourth inning that led to a gut-wrenching 5-3 win over the San Francisco Giants. The victory snapped what was the longest losing streak in Los Angeles franchise history.
Johnny Cueto navigated a high pitch count and plenty of traffic through three innings, as he stranded seven baserunners up to that point. Included in that was striking out Yasmani Grandal to leave the bases loaded in the third.
Utley’s leadoff home run in the fourth inning pulled the Dodgers even with the Giants. Kershaw’s line drive to left-center field inexplicably got by Austin Slater, who appeared to have a read on it.
Upon arriving at second base with a stand-up double, Kershaw turned to the Dodgers dugout and let out a yell of encouragement. He then pressed the issue on a grounder to shortstop and slid safely — albeit awkwardly — into third base thanks to Kelby Tomlinson’s throwing error.
Kershaw was checked on by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and head athletic trainer Nate Lucero before remaining in the game. The aggressive baserunning paid off, as Corey Seager’s sacrifice fly broke the tie.
Cody Bellinger was intentionally walked with two outs, in a decision that backfired for the Giants and Cueto. Yasiel Puig’s booming two-run double extended the Dodgers’ lead to 4-1 and knocked Cueto out of the game.
He threw 101 pitches, hit a batter, allowed four runs on six hits, struck out eight and walked four in just 3.2 innings. The outing was Cueto’s shortest in 22 starts this season.
Kershaw retired the first five batters faced and worked around Slater’s two-out single in the second. Tomlinson led off the third with a home run to provide the Giants an early lead. Prior to the solo homer, Tomlinson was a career 0-for-14 with six strikeouts against Kershaw.
San Francisco appeared poised to cut into their deficit following Nick Hundley’s leadoff double in the bottom of the fourth inning. Justin Turner’s sliding stop but errant throw nearly led to the Giants having runners at the corners with nobody out in the bottom of the fourth.
Bellinger’s leaping grab and tag put the Dodgers in position to challenge and get the safe call overturned. The defense backed up Kershaw a second time in the inning, with Chris Taylor throwing out Hundley on his attempt to score on Tomlinson’s two-out single to center field.
Kershaw was largely cruising along until he reached the sixth, which saw back-to-back singles by Hunter Pence and Buster Posey. Turner’s second errant throw, this time an error, left the bases loaded with one out.
Orlando Calixte’s sacrifice fly cut the Dodgers’ lead in half, but Kershaw limited the damage by striking out pinch-hitter Tim Federowicz to leave the bases loaded. The left-handed ace was lifted at 91 pitches, two runs (one earned) allowed on six hits, and with six strikeouts against one walk.
Ross Stripling took over in the seventh and immediately allowed a pinch-hit, leadoff double to Denard Span and a base hit to Joe Panik. Stripling limited the Giants to just one run by inducing a pair of grounders, the second of which was a double play.
Turner’s RBI double in the eighth provided insurance for Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen, who combined to throw two scoreless innings; Jansen inherited a runner at first base and completed a four-out save.
Jansen faced a bases-loaded jam with one out in the ninth inning that he escaped by striking out Posey and Hundley. Kershaw improved to 96-0 in his career during the regular whenever given at least four runs of support.
The Dodgers’ win, coupled with the Colorado Rockies defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks, lowered the magic number to clinch the National League West to eight games.
What’s more, the Washington Nationals lost, so the Dodgers’ lead for best record in the NL grew to 4.5 games.