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.

Dodgers up 1-0 in the middle of the sixth

Dodgers lefthander Clayton Kershaw seems to have grown up quite a bit in the last few weeks, showing a lot of poise in escaping out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth. Despite struggling somewhat with his control — he’s thrown four walks — Kershaw has only thrown 78 pitches through five innings. I say only because he has averaged more than 90 per five innings entering tonight. He should be able to last at least seven barring an offensive attack from the Angels.

Offensively, the Dodgers managed to put a run together in the top of the fifth via a Matt Kemp single and RBI double by Juan Pierre.

Angels starter John Lackey has thrown 91 pitches through six innings; he’s also walked four but has scattered three hits.

Dodgers take the second game of Freeway Series 6-4

Jeff officially won the battle of the Weavers’ over Jered, and it wasn’t even that close. Jeff went five innings, allowed six hits and two earned runs, and earned his fourth win of the season. Jered lasted five and 1/3, gave up 10 hits and three walks, and was charged with six runs and the loss as the Dodgers beat the Angels 6-4.

It was a balanced offensive effort for the Dodgers. Russell Martin appeared to break out of his June gloom with a 3-for-4 performance, including his first home run of the season. Matt Kemp had a simply sensational running, leaping catch of an Erick Aybar fly ball in the second, and reached base three times. Rafael Furcal drew three walks. Casey Blake and Andre Ethier had big RBI knocks.

Belisario entered the game in the sixth for Jeff Weaver and lasted 1 2/3 innings before he exited with two outs in the top of the seventh. Ramon Troncoso got the job done, getting Chone Figgins to ground into a fielder’s choice. Troncoso also worked the eighth before Dodger closer Jonathan Broxton entered in the ninth in a 6-2 game. Broxton hadn’t pitched since Tuesday and didn’t look all that sharp tonight, allowing a two-run homer to Gary Matthews Jr. before getting Aybar to ground out to end the game.

So the eighth different (and 21st total) brother-versus-brother matchup in MLB history ends with the older brother, Jeff, victorious. In history, the older brother has earned 11 wins to the little brother’s The Dodgers move to 45-24, eight games ahead of the Giants in the NL West. The Angels fall to 36-30, just a half-game back of Texas in the AL West.

Clayton Kershaw and John Lackey in tomorrow night’s Sunday Night Baseball battle.