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Better Late Than Never for the Dodgers

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Clayton Kershaw was lights out once again needing only a Russell Martin double in the eighth inning to beat the New York Mets 1-0 and earn his 10th win of the season.

“He’s pitched some great great games this year,” manager Joe Torre said. “He’s a special kid. He’s got a great calm about him.”

And that calm persisted despite some bumps.

In the first inning on a 2-2 count what appeared to be a foul-tip third strike by David Wright to end the inning was ruled merely a foul ball by home plate umpire Dana DeMuth as the Dodgers were leaving the field. Given added life, Wright lined a double up the middle to keep the inning going. Kershaw gathered himself and struck out Carlos Beltran to end the inning.

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Kershaw got into some trouble in the fifth inning after allowing back-to-back two-out singles to Jeff Francoeur and Josh Thole. He got Dickey to hit back to the box to end the threat.

The Mets had a good opportunity to score in the sixth inning when leadoff man Jose Reyes got on base with a single. However Kershaw picked Reyes off when he tried to steal second which cost the Mets dearly since Luis Castillo followed up with a double. A great grab by third baseman Casey Blake on Beltran’s liner ended the inning.

“It’s tough to see especially in a day game here,” Blake said about his diving grab. “You just react and hopefully you have enough stretch to get there.”

“Anytime you have a pick off and a diving play in an inning, it’s going to be tough to give up a run,” Kershaw said. “It’s really just good defense and good signal calling. That’s all there was to it.”

For Kershaw he was focused on not allowing the Mets to take a lead.

“If there are zeroes on the other side of the scoreboard, you’ve got to do the same to give your team a chance. That’s all I was trying to do.”

Despite the great pitching by Kershaw, the Dodgers were frustrated by Mets’ knuckleballer R.A. Dickey who only gave up a hit in the second inning to Matt Kemp and a double to Andre Ethier in the fifth inning.

Even the Mets’ bullpen did a good job of stymieing the Dodgers until the eighth inning after Dickey had to leave with an injured ankle from slipping on the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning. Raul Valdez and Manny Acosta combined for 1 1/3 innings of perfect ball.

“Hopefully we can shake things loose and get a little bit of offense,” Torre commented about the recent lack of offense. “We just need more guys to contribute so everybody feels like they’re under the gun all the time.”

The Dodgers were finally able to string along some hits when Pedro Feliciano came in the eighth inning. After a one-out single to left by Casey Blake, Martin dug in and hit a double up the middle that aided by center fielder Beltran’s bobble allowed Blake to come home.

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“I guess I’ve got a lot of fight in me,” Martin said. “I was thinking for a pitch away. It was a hanging slider.”

Despite being a month shy of 37 years old, Blake was pretty confident about his speed. “I was just thinking about getting to third,” Blake said about his reaction when Martin hit the ball.

“It I get my legs going, I’m all right.”

With the 1-0 lead in place, Torre brought in rookie wunderkind Kenley Jansen making his second appearance with the team and closed out the Mets in a perfect ninth where he struck out Jason Bay and Ike Davis. Despite the lack of experience, Torre was impressed by Jansen’s performance in Saturday’s game

“After yesterday and whom he faced yesterday - same guys basically - I felt okay bringing him in.

“He doesn’t seem to have any nerve problems,” Torre said. “There’s a calmness and confidence about this youngster. We just have to make sure we protect him.”

Jansen was on cloud nine after getting his first Major League save.

“That felt awesome, amazing,” Jansen said. “I’m just having fun out there going to pitch.”

Even closing out a 1-0 game Jansen didn’t put any pressure on himself.

“I don’t try and put pressure on myself. Just staying focused, going out and having fun and being aggressive attacking the zone all the time. I don’t have any reason to put pressure on myself.”

Perhaps being a catcher helped his demeanor.

“That’s the one thing that helped me a lot catching for five year,” Jansen explained. “I just know what I’ve got to do.”

Kershaw was duly impressed by Jansen’s performance.

“He’s the first catcher I threw to when I got drafted in the Gulf Coast League. He had an incredible arm back then. I’m really happy for him. It’s a pretty cool story.”

Despite regular closer Jonathan Broxton feeling all right, Torre was reluctant to bring in him after pitching two innings Saturday.

In the top of the fourth inning, Dodgers’ pitcher Carlos Monasterios was hit in the face in the dugout by a foul ball hit by Carlos Beltran. He was immediately taken to the clubhouse for examination by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. He never lost consciousness and doesn’t appear to have a concussion according to the team. This came a day after Giants’ outfielder Eugenio Velez was hit by a line drive in the dugout by Pat Burrell in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chase Field. Velez was taken out by a stretcher and kept overnight at St. Joseph’s Hospital for observation after being diagnosed with a concussion.

Former Happy Days’ star Anson Williams sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” in record time. The unofficial time of “God Bless America”: 38 seconds which elicited cheers in the press box.