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Phillies Take Rubber Game from Dodgers

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All the optimism after the Dodgers won four straight games last week to get to within 4 ½ games of the wild card have all but vanished now. Two solo homers did Clayton Kershaw (L, 11-9) and the Dodgers in as Philadelphia Phillies’ starter Roy Oswalt (W, 10-13) took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning for the Phillies’ 5-1 win and a 7 ½ game lead over the Dodgers in the wild card race.

After retiring the side in order in the first inning for the first time this season in his last outing in Colorado on August 27, the second pitch Kershaw made ensured he would not have a repeat performance. A fastball right down the meat of the plate to leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins landed in the left field pavilion for his second leadoff homer of the season and 35th in his career.

Kershaw gave up another leadoff homer to Shane Victorino in the second inning before striking out the side.

“I’d like to have that pitch back,” Kershaw said of Victorino’s homer. “It was an 0-2 pitch. I just didn’t have it where I want to.”

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In all Kershaw struck out 11 batters for the third time this season (12 strike outs on July 8 versus Chicago Cubs and 11 on August 22 against Cincinnati Reds) while striking out the side three times.

“They were swinging at fastballs a lot,” Kershaw said. “I threw a steady diet of breaking balls today - quite a few sliders, some curve balls. Just tried to keep them off balance.”

However Kershaw didn’t intend for 11 strikeouts.

“Strikeouts happen. It’s nothing you try to do differently. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”

“He continues to try to get better,” Torre said. “Psychologically I think this kid is very special. He’ll continue to improve.”

Despite Oswalt’s no-hit bid, the Dodgers had six base runners before Casey Blake’s single with two outs in the sixth inning broke up the no-hitter. In fact they had a great opportunity to score in the fifth inning after Jayson Werth’s two-base error on Rod Barajas’ pop fly to lead off the inning. Kershaw laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Barajas to third base, but Scott Podsednik struck out and Jamey Carroll flew out to Werth who made sure to hold on to the ball to end the threat.

“I thought we worked Oswalt very well even though we hadn’t gotten a hit,” Torre said. “We made him work, made him throw a lot of pitches. We couldn’t cash in on any.”

After the Phillies added a run in the seventh inning The Dodgers finally scored a run in the eighth inning off of reliever Ryan Madsen thanks to James Loney’s two-out single which would have been a double had Matt Kemp not had a Ruben Rivera* moment running back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth-again after missing second base when he could have easily gone to third.

“I just missed the bag,” Kemp repeated to reporters twice after the game when asked what happened.

“Obviously he was watching the ball,” Torre said. “Reading is very important, but get to the bag and be at the bag. Once you’re at the bag and you have your foot on it you can go either way. He either lost it or didn’t read it.”

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All of that was neither here nor there as Hong-Chih Kuo gave up two more runs for the Phillies 5-1 lead.