LOS ANGELES -- An emotional outburst by Clayton Kershaw was aimed at his own manager, but may have brought out the fight in his teammates.
How it happened: The fifth inning had all the action. It started with a jaw-to-jaw argument in the dugout between Kershaw and manager Don Mattingly after the ace was pulled after 80 pitches in favor of pinch hitter Austin Barnes. It’s not uncommon for Kershaw to get angry when he’s pulled, but this one had a little extra animus to it with Kershaw jabbing his finger in Mattingly’s direction a few times.
Kershaw hadn’t been particularly sharp -- he allowed three runs on six hits -- but his stuff was still viable judging from his nine strikeouts. And Barnes didn’t do much more than Kershaw would have at the plate. He made two outs in the inning.
The reason he was able to bat twice, however, is that the Dodgers, in a happy bit of irony, rallied to score six runs to make a winner of Kershaw (15-7). The big blast was as unlikely as anything the Dodgers have pulled off this season. Outfielder Chris Heisey, released earlier in the season before being reclaimed from the Toronto Blue Jays and batting .163 coming in, hit a grand slam just inside the left-field foul pole. Kershaw stayed in the dugout after his tantrum and outfielder Justin Ruggiano wrapped him in a bear hug, Kershaw smiling.
Kershaw had a strange day, epitomized by the second inning. He allowed three straight singles to start the inning, with Yasmany Tomas driving in a run, but he then struck out three in a row swinging. Brandon Drury took Kershaw deep in the fourth inning.
What it means: The Dodgers reduced their magic number to clinch the NL West to four pending the San Francisco Giants’ night game. They took a two-game lead over the New York Mets for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs pending New York’s game in Cincinnati later.
Notable: Kershaw has an outside shot at becoming the first pitcher to record 300 strikeouts in a season since Randy Johnson in 2002. He is at 281 with two starts left. What could work against him is the likelihood that his final start, on Oct. 3, will be shortened to five innings or fewer as a tuneup for the playoffs. Kershaw already is the first pitcher since Johnson in 2004 to record this many strikeouts in a season. ... When Arizona neglected to cover third base in the sixth inning, Jimmy Rollins alertly went from first to third base -- on a groundout to second. ... Paul Goldschmidt singled in his first two at-bats and wound up reaching base 38 times against the Dodgers this season, easily the most of any hitter in the league. ... Thursday was a good day in the Dodgers’ sometimes-frustrating search for an eighth-inning setup man. Chris Hatcher pitched a scoreless inning against the heart of Arizona’s lineup, striking out two.