Kershaw snags 14th win as LA edges closer to title
By Ken Gurnick and Thomas Harding
LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw limited the Rockies to three hits over seven innings, Justin Turner doubled home the tiebreaking run and rookie Scott Schebler homered late in a 4-1 win Monday night that trimmed the Dodgers' magic number to 12. The National League West leaders have won 16 of their last 20.
Kershaw, 14-6 with a 2.12 ERA, allowed a first-inning run and struck out five, outpitching Colorado's Jon Gray (0-1). Kershaw is 9-0 in his last 13 starts with seven consecutive outings in which he's allowed no more than one run. The reigning NL MVP and Cy Young Award winner is 4-0 against the Rockies this year and 17-5 against them in his career.
"Every guy was fighting him, battling the slider. He had to fight for every out they got," manager Don Mattingly said of the Rockies. "I thought they did a really good job against him. They came tonight to play. It was a battle."
"With the confidence he's been throwing with, the ninth was his inning unless something went completely haywire," said Mattingly of Hatcher.
The Dodgers scored in the second inning on Yasmani Grandal's sacrifice fly after a single by Andre Ethier and double by rookie Corey Seager. Turner's RBI double in the fifth followed a walk to Chase Utley and a single by Adrian Gonzalez. Schebler's insurance homer in the eighth scored Seager, who went 2-for-3 and was hit by a pitch. Schebler has three homers in 23 at-bats, but has been overshadowed by Seager.
"He deserves all the attention he's getting," Schebler said.. "Just look at what he's doing. I don't mind being the under the radar guy, that's fine."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Secret of his success: Putting hitters away has been a Kershaw trademark this season, so it was uncharacteristic when he had D.J. LeMahieu 0-2 in the count, then walked him in the first inning. Colorado made Kershaw pay, as LeMahieu took third on Nolan Arenado's double and scored on Carlos Gonzalez's RBI groundout.
Making the pitches: Gray, on tight pitch and innings limits in his first big league audition, fanned a career-best eight. The biggest strikeout came in the fourth with the score tied, 1-1, when he needed just four pitches to vanquish Schebler with two on.
"I saw explosive fastballs," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "And his secondary stuff was good. He threw some sliders, some good changeups. That's a tough lineup to get through. He did a real nice job keeping us in position to win that game.
"It was two power arms. Of course, he's got a long way to go to get in Clayton's class. But two very talented arms out there were going at it. And Jonny hung real tough." More >
Not making the pitch: Gray was bumping against 90 pitches for the first time in his career, with two down in the fifth. Still, Weiss let him go after Turner. But Turner swatted Gray's second pitch into left for the go-ahead RBI double. Gray departed after 4 2/3 innings having thrown 92 pitches. The key pitch to Turner came after a visit from Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster.
"He went over the game plan, asked me what I want to do," Gray said of his meeting with Foster. "[Turner] had swung at some sliders early on. He was chasing. I didn't really execute the second one. That was one that really cost me, big time."
Stop the slide: Grandal's sacrifice fly to deep left field was a sign of good things to come, as he followed with singles in his next two at-bats. That snapped an 0-for-36 drought for the Dodgers' catcher. More >
"Get rid of him. Now it makes sense." -- Mattingly, when it was explained that the fan fighting Adrian Gonzalez for a foul ball wore a Red Sox cap
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Gray finally has a decision in eight Major League starts. His seven no-decisions to start his career tied Al Levine (1996-2005) for most among starting pitchers in history. However, Levine had plenty of decisions as a reliever before getting his first as a starter. Gray's seven no-decisions were in his first seven Major League games.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: Lefty Chris Rusin can dazzle at times. Two starts ago he threw his second home complete game of the season in a win over the Giants. But in two of his last four starts, he didn't make it beyond three innings. Last time out, he lasted just three in a loss to the Padres. The Rockies hope the good Rusin shows up against the Dodgers on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. MT.
Dodgers:Brett Anderson gets the call opposite Rusin, at 7:10 p.m. PT, making his first start in eight days after leaving his previous outing with a calf cramp. The Dodgers' lefty is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in two career starts against his former team.