Goldy caps big series by besting Kershaw

Goldy caps big series by besting Kershaw

LOS ANGELES -- Even against Clayton Kershaw, the edge -- like it did all series -- went to Paul Goldschmidt on Thursday afternoon. In the D-backs' 6-3 loss to the Dodgers in the finale at Dodger Stadium, Goldschmidt capped a 7-for-16 four-game set with a pair of hits off the National League Cy Young contender, his third multhit game of the four.

Goldschmidt had already homered three times in the series -- one time apiece in the first three games -- when he stepped in for his first at-bat against Kershaw in the second inning. The Arizona first baseman lined a leadoff single to right field and eventually scored the first run of the game. An inning later, batting with men on first and second, Goldschmidt drove in a run with a single to left off the defending NL MVP.

"You're just trying to have good at-bats," Goldschmidt said. "There's no real plan to beat him."

Goldschmidt, though, is one of the few hitters in the game with the ability to beat a pitcher like Kershaw. The series against the Dodgers was a glimpse of Goldschmidt at his best -- one of the league's elite pure hitters who can drive the ball with power to all fields, against righties and lefties. Of Goldschmidt's three homers at Chavez Ravine, one went to left field, one to right-center field and one to right field. His seven hits were evenly distributed between left, center and right, and among left- and right-handed pitchers.

But entering the series, Goldschmidt had seen a slow, gradual dropoff in his numbers since the beginning of August. From Aug. 1 -Sept. 20 -- the game before the D-backs traveled to Los Angeles -- Goldschmidt hit .239, as his batting average fell from .349 to .315.

"I don't know, there's not always an easy answer," Goldschmidt said. "I don't really think about it too much. I just really try to take the same approach I do every day. … I've been playing well the last few games. Hopefully it'll continue and I'll end the season like that."

Against the Dodgers, even though it was only four games, Goldschmidt did look more like the hitter who tore up the league during the first half.

"I don't know if I can pinpoint anything," manager Chip Hale said. "But he's just having better at-bats."

The one obvious change was that Goldschmidt hit cleanup for all four games. Before the Dodgers series, he hadn't batted there all season. The last time he'd started at a position other than No. 3 in the order was June 2, 2013.

Hale said he moved Goldschmidt to the cleanup spot in part so that if he comes up in the first inning, he's guaranteed to have men on base in front of him. If he doesn't, then the D-backs have one of the best players in baseball at getting on base leading off the second.

As for a tangible impact on Goldschmidt's at-bats, that seems less likely.

"It's kind of fun because it's something different," Goldschmidt said, "but there's not really any difference as far as me hitting."

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.