Clayton Kershaw reached a historic milestone, set a season high with 14 strikeouts, but needed Yasmani Grandal’s heroics to avoid suffering a second 1-0 loss of his career. Grandal’s solo home run with one out in the ninth tied the game, and Cody Bellinger’s home run in the 12th cemented a win.
Kershaw began the game on a rough note and ended his outing in similar fashion. In between, he reached 2,000 career strikeouts and retired 20 batters in a row. But a mistake pitch to Domingo Santana in the seventh inning nearly did him in.
Kershaw’s first pitch of the night was pulled down the left-field line by Keon Broxton for a double. Kershaw walked the next batter before getting out of the first-inning jam unscathed. He struck out two of three batters faced in the second inning to reach 2,000-strikeout milestone.
Kershaw struck out the side in the third inning, and ran his total to a then season-high 11 strikeouts through five scoreless innings. One came on a 54-foot curveball that Jesus Aguilar’s golf swing whiffed on.
Kershaw retired 18 batters in a row through the sixth. However, that was the first inning he didn’t record at least two strikeouts.
Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson largely matched the three-time Cy Young Award winner. Nelson also struck out the side in the third, had limited the Dodgers to just two hits, and was up to nine strikeouts through six innings.
The Dodgers’ first threat came in the fifth on a Yasiel Puig chopper that Hernan Perez failed to backhand at third base. Nelson stranded the two-out double by retiring Brett Eibner.
Adrian Gonzalez, who’s fared well at Miller Park throughout his career, lined a single into right field with one out in the seventh inning. But he was stranded by Chase Utley and Cody Bellinger, with the latter striking out a third time on the night.
Kershaw’s string of consecutive batters retired was snapped in deflating fashion as Santana crushed a 1-0 fastball over the center-field fence to give the Brewers a late lead. Kershaw ended the inning with yet another strikeout.
Nelson’s next brush with trouble came in the eighth when Puig reached on an infield single, and Eibner lined a base hit into left field. Chris Taylor was sent to pinch-hit for Kershaw, though curiously squared around to bunt.
Unable to get a sacrifice bunt down, Taylor was allowed to swing away one the count got to 1-2. The Dodgers caught a break as a grounder to second base was bobbled. It resulted in a fielder’s choice that left runners at the corners, instead of a double play.
Nelson then induced Logan Forsythe into an inning-ending double play to escape the jam. Orlando Arcia, who was the only Brewers player to not strike out against Kershaw, hit a ground-rule double on the first pitch he saw from Pedro Baez.
Baez struck out the next two batters faced, intentionally walked Eric Thames, then ended the inning with another strikeout. Yasmani Grandal shook off an 0-for-3 effort with three strikeouts to line a game-tying home run to right field in the ninth.
Gonzalez followed with a double and was replaced by pinch-runner Kiké Hernandez. Utley flied out, and Corey Knebel then intentionally walked Bellinger and Puig to load the bases. The decision paid off as Eibner struck out swinging.
Baez worked a second scoreless inning of relief to send the game into extra innings. Grant Dayton struck out the side in the bottom of the 10th. The Dodgers at that point matched a franchise record with 22 strikeouts in the game.
It was set during an 18-inning game against the Cincinnati Reds in 1972. The record fell and was extended in the 11th, when Kenley Jansen struck out Perez and Santana.
In similar fashion to Grandal, Bellinger had struck out three times before blasting a clutch home run to right field in the 12th inning. Bellinger’s team-leading 12th home run paved the way to Jansen earning the win in a 2-1 victory.
It wasn’t without some intrigue however, as Villar hit a hustle double with one out. Villar then stole third base, where he was stranded.
The Dodgers franchise record for most strikeouts in a game settled at 26, as Jansen added two more in the bottom of the 12th. That also set a National League record and tied the MLB high.
Nelson, who finished with 11 strikeouts over eight shutout innings, became the first Brewers pitcher in franchise history to have consecutive starts with at least 10 strikeouts and zero walks.