Joe Torre celebrated his 69th birthday with his fifth straight win on his special day. He is the oldest manager in the Majors, 10 months the elder of Atlanta’s Bobby Cox.
Clayton Kershaw was dominant against an Astros offense that collected 16 hits last night. The 21-year old pitched deep into the game and gave the bullpen a much-needed rest.
Kershaw went seven innings of shutout, two-hit baseball. The big number of the night for him was that he walked just one batter while striking out five. Kershaw entered the game as the Major League leader in walks issued.
Most impressively, he didn’t allow any runners to reach second base on the night.
In his past seven starts, including tonight, he has allowed just three earned runs in 42.2 innings. The impressive effort tonight dropped his ERA on the season to 2.95, which is good for ninth in the National League.
The Dodgers jumped on Astros starter Mike Hampton early scoring two runs in the first inning. Orlando Hudson laced an RBI triple; his second in as many nights, and Matt Kemp added an RBI single to push Los Angeles in front 2-0.
Hampton settled down and retired 14 in a row after the Kemp single until there was one out in the bottom of the sixth.
Hudson rolled a single into centerfield and Manny Ramirez followed that up with a double into the left field corner. The Astros then elected to intentionally walk Casey Blake with first base open and Hudson came home when Kemp hit into a 6-5 fielder’s choice.
The Dodgers led 3-0 but kept the inning going and a bizarre play unfolded to add an insurance run for the Blue Crew.
Mark Loretta singled home Blake from second and when the play seemed to end, catcher Humberto Quintero walked towards the mound and handed the ball to Hampton.
Out of frustration, Hampton slammed the ball at his own glove, but completely missed. The ball rolled towards the Astros first base dugout and after a few seconds, Kemp took off from third and scored easily.
The Astros argued and claimed that time had been called, but home plate umpire Mike Dimuro clearly had not stopped play. Hampton was issued an error and exited the game down 5-0.
Hall of Fame Dodgers announcer Vin Scully proclaimed it “the oddest error I’ve ever seen,” and considering the amount of baseball he has seen, it’s a safe bet that it was one of the strangest plays in Major League history.
James McDonald took over for Kershaw at the start of the eighth and the Astros suddenly showed signs of life. They plated two runs on a pair of RBI singles and cut the Dodgers lead down to 5-2. McDonald gave up two earned runs on 10 pitches and didn’t record an out.
Brent Leach, who gave up the second run-scoring single, recorded one-out and turned things over to Ramon Troncoso. Troncoso forced two groundouts to end the threat with a runner on third.
The latter of the groundballs saved the Dodgers one run for sure and possibly more.
Hudson booted a roller to him at second and recovered, according to umpire Casey Moser, just in time to throw out a hustling Jeff Keppinger at first.
The call set off manager Cecil Cooper and led to his prompt ejection because the Astros would have tallied another run had Keppinger been called safe.
The call could have been a make-up for what occurred a few plays earlier when Michael Bourne stole second base. Russell Martin one-hopped a throw right on the bag and Hudson looked to tag Bourne before he reached the bag, but he was called safe.
Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton came on in the ninth after missing the All-Star game with an injured nerve in his toe. The last time he pitched was last Friday against the Brewers when he gave up two runs in just one inning of work.
Broxton didn’t look quite right. He allowed the first two runners to reach base safely but then struck out the next two hitters before walking Lance Berkman to load the bases.
Pudge Rodriguez worked the count to 2-0, but Broxton came back to strike him out on a 2-2 fastball to end the game.
The Dodgers avoided a three-game losing streak and are currently the only team in the Majors to not drop three-in-a-row. They have set a franchise record (previous was '65 in games 72-74) for going the deepest in the season (92 games) without such a drought.
The Chicago Cubs went the longest last season not dropping three straight games until No. 71-73.
The Major League record is held by the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who didn’t go on a three-game skid until games 147-149, and went on to win an all-time best 116 games.
WP: Kershaw (8-5)
LP: Hampton (5-7)
SV: Broxton (21)
Notes from Saturday night:
The Kid is on Fire
Since Jun. 16, Clayton Kershaw entered the game leading the Majors in ERA with a 0.76 mark (3 ER/35.2 IP) over six starts. He is 4-0 over that span and the Dodgers are 6-0.
Adding in tonight’s performance, Clayton lowered his ERA in his past seven starts to 0.63 (3 ER/42.2 IP).
Dan Haren is second over that span with a 1.50 ERA (6 ER/36 IP).
A Team Effort
The Dodgers have four players with 50 RBI or more: Andre Ethier (56), Casey Blake (55), James Loney (54), and Matt Kemp (50). Orlando Hudson is on the brink of 50 as he drove in his 49th run tonight.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!