LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers, who rarely lose when Clayton Kershaw is starting, lost the second such game in a row on Tuesday night, this time 2-1 to the San Francisco Giants before 32,799 at Dodger Stadium. This time, it was Kershaw who got tagged with the loss.
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner was, for the most part, his usual, dominating self, limiting the Giants to five hits over eight strong innings, but two of those hits were a leadoff single by Buster Posey in the second inning followed immediately by a first-pitch homer by Brett Pill.
That was enough for the Giants, who got 7 1/3 outstanding innings from Ryan Vogelsong against a complicit Dodgers offense that wasted numerous scoring chances, mostly with ill-advised sacrifice bunts and ill-timed doubleplay grounders.
Breaking out. James Loney broke out of an 0-for-13 skid in the second inning by smoking a pitch from Vogelsong, a left-hander no less, to the base of the wall in center field, driving in the Dodgers' first run. Loney began the game hitting .198, and manager Don Mattingly said before the game that in addition to mostly sitting Loney against lefties, he might begin benching him against some right-handers, too.
Also breaking out? They weren't exactly rocket shots, but struggling leadoff man Dee Gordon got a couple of hits, both of them balls that didn't leave the infield (one was a well-placed bunt) that he simply beat out with his speed.
Heads-up defense. Loney also contributed, for the second night in a row, with the glove. In the top of the fourth, with Pill on first and nobody out, Giants left fielder Joaquin Arias hit a low popup to Loney, who noticed that Arias wasn't running hard and opted at the last second to let the ball drop. It was a risky choice, but Loney got the bounce he was hoping for, snapped up the ball and tagged Pill, who had been caught in no-man's land. Loney then had plenty of time to step on the bag and complete the double play.
Taken deep. Kershaw gave up his fifth home run of the season in the second inning, a two-run blast by Pill, in Kershaw's sixth start. It seems like an alarmingly high number when you consider Kershaw gave up only 15 homers all of last season, but a quick look back at his start-by-start reveals that he also gave up five homers in his first six starts last year on his way to the National League Cy Young Award.
Looser webbing. A.J. Ellis committed another passed ball, his fourth in his past six starts. Before that, Ellis had committed a total of three passed balls in exactly 100 big league games behind the plate.
Wasting away. With the Dodgers trailing by a run, runners on first and second and nobody out in the seventh, Juan Uribe, who came into that at-bat 0-for-8 and 1-for-13, apparently got a bunt sign. He responded by putting one about a foot in front of the plate, where Posey, the Giants catcher, gathered it up in plenty of time to turn a third-to-first double play on the slow-footed Uribe and snuff out a potential Dodgers rally. An inning later, again with runners on first and second and nobody out, Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis apparently got a bunt sign. He actually executed it, but with first base now open, the Giants predictably walked Matt Kemp intentionally. That brought up Andre Ethier, who had grounded into a rally-killing double play earlier in the game and promptly did it again.