|L.A. Dodgers (57-34) «||2||0||0||0||0||3||0||0||x||5||8||1|
He won his fifth straight decision, pitching seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball to help the Dodgers beat the Astros 5-2 on Saturday night.
Kershaw (8-5) struck out five and lowered his ERA to 2.95. The 21-year-old left-hander is 5-0 with a minuscule 0.63 ERA over his last seven starts, and has not allowed a run in five of those outings. This was only the second time he lasted seven innings during that stretch.
"To pitch for a first place team, you've got to have confidence," Kershaw said. "I mean, you don't want to be cocky or arrogant about it, but at the same time, you want to carry yourself in a way that you know you can get the job done. Obviously it doesn't hurt when you're getting some runs to work with and some great defensive help."
"Clayton's in a good place right now," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who celebrated his 69th birthday. "We felt that with a five-run lead, our bullpen could do it. And it did. It was a little hairy for a while, but we did it. That's what the eighth and ninth innings are supposed to be. There are very few of those games a friend of mind likes to call `cigar games,' where you can just do the old Red Auerbach thing and wait for the clock to run out. That doesn't happen in this sport."
The Astros scored both of their runs in the eighth against rookie James McDonald. But Jeff Keppinger was called out at first by umpire Casey Mower on a very close play for the third out with a man at third. Manager Cecil Cooper came out to argue and was ejected for the fourth time this season. Television replays showed that Keppinger beat the throw.
Broxton, who has been hampered by a sore big right toe and has had two cortisone shots for it, pitched for the first time in eight days. The first-time All-Star gave up a leadoff walk and an infield hit to Carlos Lee, then fanned Hunter Pence and Chris Coste before loading the bases with a walk to pinch-hitter and Astros RBI leader Lance Berkman -- who did not start for the second straight night because of a left calf strain.
"I felt good out there, but I was a little rusty," Broxton said. "I was yanking some pitches and I just dug myself a hole, but I battled through it."
The Dodgers, who dropped the first two games of this series 3-0 and 8-1, lead the majors with a 57-34 record and remain the only team that hasn't lost three a row. The last time that happened was Aug. 29, when they dropped their eighth straight before winning the next eight.
Mike Hampton (5-7) gave up five runs -- four earned -- and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings and committed an embarrassing error that led to one of the runs.
The Dodgers increased the margin to 5-0 with three runs in the sixth. Orlando Hudson scored on a bases-loaded fielder's choice grounder by Matt Kemp, which followed an intentional walk to Casey Blake. Mark Loretta, who came in 16-for-44 lifetime against Hampton, hit an RBI single to left that drove in Blake on a close play.
When Hampton got the ball back from catcher Humberto Quintero, the frustrated 15-year veteran tried to slam it into his glove and missed - forcing Hampton to retrieve it near the first base dugout as Kemp scored the fifth run. At that point, Cooper replaced Hampton.
"I saw the umpire's hands up, but I guess he was giving the safe call," Hampton said. "It was a stupid play on my part, and it was just out of frustration. It cost me a run. We didn't score the runs we needed to make a difference, but it's still something that shouldn't happen."
Torre announced before the game that right-hander Jason Schmidt, who hasn't pitched in the majors since July 16, 2007, will be activated from the 60-day DL on Monday night to start against Cincinnati.
|The Dodgers ride the hot arm of Clayton Kershaw, who owns a 0.63 ERA over his past seven starts. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Kazuo Matsui, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.255|
|Jeff Keppinger, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.268|
|Miguel Tejada, SS||3||0||1||0||1||1||1||.329|
|Carlos Lee, LF||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.307|
|Hunter Pence, RF||4||0||0||0||0||3||3||.295|
|Chris Coste, 1B-C||3||1||1||0||1||1||2||.243|
|Jason Michaels, CF||3||1||1||1||0||0||1||.179|
|a- Lance Berkman, PH||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.269|
|Wandy Rodriguez, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.029|
|Humberto Quintero, C||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.241|
|b- Darin Erstad, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.185|
|Michael Bourn, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.284|
|Wesley Wright, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Alberto Arias, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Ivan Rodriguez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||3||.255|
|Mike Hampton, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.310|
|Jeff Fulchino, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|d- Geoff Blum, PH-1B||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.282|
|a-walked for Michaels in the 9th|
|b-singled for Quintero in the 8th|
|c-struck out for Arias in the 9th|
|d-struck out for Fulchino in the 8th|
|2B - Chris Coste (9, McDonald)|
|RBI - Jason Michaels (7)|
|SB - Michael Bourn (33, 2nd base off Troncoso/Martin)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Quintero-Keppinger, Matsui-Tejada-Coste|
|E - Mike Hampton (1, (Hampton threw ball away while walking back to the mound, both runners advanced)|
|Mike Hampton (L,5-7)||5.2||7||5||4||2||4||0||4.63|
|IBB - Blake by Mike Hampton, by Blake|
|Pitches-Strikes - Mike Hampton 92-57, Jeff Fulchino 13-8, Wesley Wright 4-3, Alberto Arias 16-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Hampton 7-4, Jeff Fulchino 3-1|
|Batters Faced - Mike Hampton 24, Jeff Fulchino 4, Wesley Wright 1, Alberto Arias 3|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.254|
|Orlando Hudson, 2B||4||2||3||1||0||0||0||.295|
|Manny Ramirez, LF||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.338|
|Jonathan Broxton, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Casey Blake, 3B||2||1||0||0||2||2||1||.283|
|Matt Kemp, RF-CF||4||1||1||2||0||1||1||.315|
|Mark Loretta, 1B||3||0||1||1||0||1||2||.243|
|James Loney, 1B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.279|
|Russell Martin, C||3||0||1||0||0||1||1||.257|
|Clayton Kershaw, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.138|
|a- Blake DeWitt, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.154|
|James McDonald, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Brent Leach, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Ramon Troncoso, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Andre Ethier, RF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.248|
|Juan Pierre, CF-LF||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.318|
|a-flied out for Kershaw in the 7th|
|2B - Manny Ramirez (12, Hampton)|
|3B - Orlando Hudson (4, Hampton)|
|RBI - Orlando Hudson (49), Matt Kemp 2 (52), Mark Loretta (17)|
|2-OUT RBI - Mark Loretta (9)|
|CS - Casey Blake (2, 3rd base by Hampton/Quintero)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|DP - Blake-Hudson-Loretta|
|E - Juan Pierre (1, Missed catch of throw)|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Clayton Kershaw (W,8-5)||7||2||0||0||1||5||0||2.95|
|Ramon Troncoso (H,9)||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.73|
|Jonathan Broxton (S,21)||1||1||0||0||2||3||0||3.02|
|WP - James McDonald (4), Brent Leach (4)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Clayton Kershaw 103-66, James McDonald 10-7, Brent Leach 8-5, Ramon Troncoso 12-8, Jonathan Broxton 23-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Clayton Kershaw 5-10, Ramon Troncoso 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Clayton Kershaw 23, James McDonald 2, Brent Leach 2, Ramon Troncoso 2, Jonathan Broxton 6|
|Attendance - 48298|
|Game Time - 2:51|
|Temperature - 79|
|Umpires - Home - Mike DiMuro, First Base - Casey Moser, Second Base - Dale Scott, Third Base - Jerry Meals|