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Dodgers Felled by Bumgarner
The Dodgers had everything going for them: a 7-3 roadtrip; the Giants without the services of Melky Cabrera; Clayton Kershaw on the mound. But Giants starter Madison Bumgarner proved too much for the resurgent Dodger bats as he tossed eight four-hit shutout innings in the Giants 2-1 victory.
"We had our hands full with him," manager Don Mattingly commented about Bumgarner. "He gives you a lot of angles with that crossfire, the cutter comes out of his shoulders. Pretty good game tonight."
The eight innings Bumgarner tossed were a marvel: four hits, 10 strikeouts and a hit batter. All of this against the Dodgers who averaged 5.8 runs on their recent 10-game road trip to the East Coast. Kershaw's and Luis Cruz's two singles each were the only hits Bumgarner gave up.
"I don't know how I'm getting hits right now," Kershaw admitted. "I'm getting lucky. I don't know what's going on."
With the two hits on Monday, Kershaw improved to 7-for-10 this month. Which brings up the events of the eighth inning.
In what was perhaps a poetic moment, Juan Uribe came in to pinch hit for Kershaw with one out sending the crowd of 36,878 booing. After Uribe struck out swinging, the crowd voiced their displeasure even louder.
Seeing how Uribe had only four hits in his previous 35 at-bats going back to July 1 and Kershaw somehow, someway got two hits off of Bumgarner, should Kershaw have bat for himself even if he wasn't going to pitch the ninth?
The only other right-handed hitter off the bench for the Dodgers was backup catcher Matt Treanor, so why not?
"Nope," came the emphatic reply from Mattingly.
"No," Kershaw brushed off as if seeing a horrible sign from catcher A.J. Ellis. "We've got lots of professional hitters on the bench."
Despite how asinine the premise might be, it's hardly sacrilegious to bring this up seeing how the professional hitters on the bench haven't been hitting. But, then again, people still slide to first base like Angel Pagan did in the sixth inning despite the whole world of physics denouncing it (maybe someone can determine how legitimate it is.)
Nevertheless, Hanley Ramirez got hearts pumping faster in the ninth inning with his 413-foot solo homer off of Sergio Romo who came in to close the game for the Giants. With the left-handed Andre Ethier at the plate, Javier Lopez entered for Romo getting Ethier to ground out to first to end the game.
It is a shame that Kershaw came out with the loss. His pitching line wasn't that much shabbier than Bumgarner's: 8 innings, 6 hits, 2 earned runs, 10 strikeouts. Pablo Sandoval hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning and lined a single to left field in the sixth inning to drive home the only runs for the Giants. But that didn't quite sooth Kershaw.
"Losing sucks no matter what," Kershaw said.
Also wasted were some defensive gems by the Dodgers. The first came in the third inning when Gregor Blanco, for some reason, decided to lead off with a bunt. The ball popped straight up into the air halfway down the first base line hooking foul. Kershaw sold out on the play, leaving his mark on the first base line chalk to snatch the ball.
"When I saw it go up, I just went after it," Kershaw said.
Luis Cruz in the fourth inning made a great diving play on Buster Posey's grounder hit to third base.
While it's true that the Dodgers have been scoring runs, some of the bats have been cool. Coming into the game, Juan Rivera seemed to have switched hitting philisophies with James Loney going 3-for-31 in August. Andre Ethier, too, has been batting a cool .222 this month.
However perhaps most notably, Matt Kemp has yet to get a hit since being ejected from the game in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
"He's been a little impatient swinging balls outside of the strike zone a little bit," Mattingly observed. "They pounded him a little bit in Pittsburgh. He got a little conscious, and it gets you in trouble.
"He needs to stay with what he does. You start looking for that ball in, you're in trouble."
The Giants retook the lead in the NL West by a half-game while the Dodgers also fell a half-game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for the final NL wild card berth.