Dodgers grab finale, 5-3

Clayton Kershaw was brilliant, the Dodgers’ offense was balanced once again, and the relief corps did just enough to secure a victory in the finale of the rubber game with the Angels, 5-3.

Kershaw delivered a near-virtuoso performance tonight: seven innings, four hits, four walks, and no runs. The 21-year-old, operating without his best stuff, struck out only five but got 11 ground ball outs. He threw 107 pitches in his seven innings of work, his longest outing since May 17 in Florida.

For the first seven innings, the Dodgers offense wasn’t too balanced. It essentially relied on two guys: Matt Kemp to single, and Juan Pierre to send him home with an RBI double. Joe Torre’s recent decision to bat Matt Kemp late in the order as a sort of second leadoff hitter began to really pay dividends tonight, as Kemp’s speed on the bases allowed him to be both a table-setter and potential table-clearer.

Eventually, James Loney hit a two-run shot in the eighth (it was reviewed by the umpires and upheld) and Casey Blake hit an RBI base knock in the ninth to cap the Dodgers’ twelve-hit performance.

After Kershaw exited, Ramon Troncoso came in for the eighth. He got two outs but put two runners on before being pulled. Situational lefty Brent Leach — who’s been nearly twice as effective against right-handed hitters as lefties — got Angel pinch-hitter Kendry Morales to hit a grounder to Blake at third.

Blake delivered an off-line throw to Loney at first, however, and the Angels scored their first run of the night. Jonathan Broxton then came in and walked Gary Matthews Jr. — the perpetrator of last night’s ninth-inning homer — before striking out Erick Aybar to end the inning. Broxton ran into a bit more trouble in the ninth, allowing two runners to score, before getting Napoli to ground out to end the game with Rivera at first.

Big win for the Dodgers, who move to 46-24. Angels again stay a half-game back of Texas at 36-31. The Blue have a day off tomorrow while they travel to Chicago to take on the White Sox in a three-game set beginning Tuesday.

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