It took a Will Smith walk-off home run, but Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers kept their streak alive by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3, to win a 17th consecutive game in which the left-hander has started.
The Dodgers won 13 straight Kershaw starts in 2014 and 16 in a row in 2017. Kershaw is the only pitcher in the liveball era (since 1920) with three separate streaks of 13-plus wins in his career.
The Dodgers twice blew a lead, including in the eighth inning when Julio Urias hit Jean Segura with one out in the eighth inning and promptly allowed a game-tying, two-run home run to Bryce Harper.
Kershaw scattered six hits over seven innings but it was the Dodgers’ defense that nearly let him down. After Harper’s one-out single in the fourth inning, a pitch in the dirt — one that Will Smith should’ve stopped — went through his legs and allowed Harper to move into scoring position.
Then a hard groundball to third base skipped off Max Muncy’s glove, giving J.T. Realmuto a game-tying RBI single. Defense was an issue again in the sixth inning, as Chris Taylor came up empty on his attempt at a sliding catch.
The risky play with two outs put Rhys Hoskins at third base, though he was stranded when the Dodgers’ shift had Kiké Hernandez perfectly positioned to catch a line drive off Realmuto’s bat. Kershaw got himself into trouble in the seventh inning by surrendering a leadoff double to Scott Kingery.
He wiggled out of trouble by inducing consecutive fly balls followed by a strikeout. Kershaw did not factor into the decision but has now logged at least six innings in each of his nine starts to begin the season.
Hernandez’s RBI single in the third inning gave L.A. a 1-0 lead, and David Freese’s solo home run broke to start the bottom of the fifth broke up a tie.
Since May 24, Freese has appeared in six of the Dodgers’ last nine games, making four starts. Not only was he in the lineup against the Phillies, but the veteran infielder was in the leadoff spot for the first time this season.
That decision was a result of the Dodgers facing an opponent using an ‘opener’ a fourth time in the past two weeks.
Matt Beaty’s infield single in the seventh inning later led to what appeared to be an insurance run after Vince Velasquez’s throwing error left runners at second and third base. Beaty scored on Muncy’s sacrifice fly down the left-field line.
With one out and the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, Smith lifted a skyscraper that carried a few rows over the short wall in left field. The home run and RBI were both the first of Smith’s young MLB career.