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Dodgers Fend Off D-backs Comeback for Win

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When you think about a postcard of a Dodger game, this one would not be included. Fielding gaffes by both teams and an acid-reflux ninth inning weren’t the most picturesque scenes, but the Dodgers hung on by a broken fingernail and starter Clayton Kershaw’s 11 strikeouts to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3.

Even with those 11 strikeouts, Kershaw (W, 5-3) had some tough moments early on though the first inning was not his doing. Chris Young led the game off for the D-backs with a fly-ball double that just touched fair mere inches inside the right field line. Hilarity ensued when Melvin Mora blooped a ball into the Bermuda Triange of second baseman Aaron Miles, first baseman James Loney and right fielder Andre Ethier. The ball landed in Miles’ glove in fair territory just as Miles collided with Loney, then popped out of Miles’ glove giving Mora the double. Since Young had to hold at second on chance of getting doubled up, he landed at third base making one of the strange times a team hit back-to-back doubles without scoring.

But Kershaw kept his head down and the D-backs off the scoreboard with strikeouts to Xavier Nady and Stephen Drew and a line out by Justin Upton.

In the third inning, the trouble was his doing when he walked opposing pitcher Joe Saunders on four pitches to lead off the inning.

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“You can’t walk the pitcher let alone on four pitches,” Kershaw said acknowledging the frustration. “Just a lot of bad things happening in that at-bat.”

After a single to Young and striking out Mora, Kershaw walked Nady to load the bases. As if things were status quo, Kershaw struck out Drew and got Upton to fly out to left field to end the threat - the first two of 14 consecutive batters he retired.

“He started throwing the ball in the strike zone, working ahead of the count,” battery-mate Rod Barajas said. “When he’s throwing strike one, strike two, it’s going to be a really long night for whoever’s facing him.”

On the other side of the draw, Saunders (L, 0-5) had an easy four innings yielding only a single and two walks. With one out in the fifth inning Barajas took a 1-1 offering from Saunders to left field, and it was all downhill from there for Saunders.

“I’m just trying to do my part,” Barajas said now tied with Kemp for the team lead with seven home runs. “Early on I’ve had some pitches I can hit. I’ve got to take advantage of those.”

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In the sixth, Saunders gave up back-to-back singles to Carroll and Miles. After Ethier lined out, Matt Kemp hit a long fly-ball double that was mere inches from being a three-run homer. Nonetheless, Carroll scored to give the Dodgers the 2-0 lead.

Then Saunders’ defense failed him with two outs in the seventh. After Carroll walked, Miles hit a grounder deep to short. With Drew running to get the ball, he tried to make the force play at second base. Unfortunately the second baseman was not covering the plate and the ball sailed to the wall along the first baseline box seats. Carroll ended up scoring, Miles at third base credited with a single but no RBI and Drew with the two-base error.

That ended Saunders’ night and with Joe Paterson to salvage things it didn’t get much better. With the shift on, Ethier hit a grounder sharply to Drew playing on the first-base side of second base. Drew bungled the easy throw to first base allowing Miles to score and Ethier to reach base safely. While officially scored a base hit, a second error could have been easily called on Drew.

While it seemed the Dodgers had things under control at 4-0, oh no no no. Those who have watched this team play know that until the 27th is recorded, anything can happen.

Things looked all right even when the D-backs got a run back in the eighth inning off of Matt Guerrier. But when Vicente Padilla came in to close the ninth inning, if was apparent something wasn’t quite right when he gave up a lead-off walk to Upton and a single to Kelly Johnson. A single by pinch hitter Miguel Montero plated those two to cut the Dodger lead to one run. When Padilla walked Young after striking out pinch hitter Russell Branyan, Mattingly wanted a change after 32 pitches.

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“It was the pitch count,” Mattingly said. “If he was lower than that, I would have left him in there with Mora. He had just gotten too many at that point.”

Kenley Jansen came in, threw four fastballs to Mora and got the strikeout to end the game.

“Just try to attack the hitters like I always do,” Jansen said of his approach. “I just don’t put the pressure on me. I think the pressure is on the hitter: he’s the one that has to make an adjustment and put the ball into play with two outs.”

Despite all the Rolaids moments in this game, Mattingly wants to at least savor the victory.

“Once there’s a W on the board, you just walk away,” Mattingly said. “It don’t matter you get there.”

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Texas Rangers LA Angels 4-1. The only offense for the Angels was Erick Aybar’s first homer of the season in the third inning. Meanwhile for Angels’ starter Jered Weaver after winning his first six starts, he has now lost his last three. He gave up all four runs in his six innings of work including solo shots to Elvis Andrus in the first inning and Adrian Beltre in the sixth inning.

The Angels did have a chance in the ninth inning with a two-out rally off of closer Neftali Feliz when Alberto Callaspo singled and Hank Conger walked. But Mark Trumbo, the tying run at the plate, popped up to end the game and give Feliz his seventh save of the season. Starter Alexi Ogando got the win going 4-0 so far this season in seven starts with a 2.06 ERA.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

LA Angels at Texas Rangers. 1:10 p.m. FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.

Arizona Diamondbacks at LA Dodgers. 4:10 p.m. FOX, AM 790 KABC.

Sporting Kansas City at LA Galaxy. 7:30 p.m. FSWest, AM 1150 KTLK, AM 1330 KWKW (en español).