SAN DIEGO — After using six relievers in Friday’s 12-inning thriller, the Dodgers were in need of a solid start from Clayton Kershaw on Saturday. The future Hall of Famer delivered.
Kershaw tossed six scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 2-0 win over the Padres on Saturday at Petco Park, striking out eight and allowing just two hits in the process. Behind Kershaw and a dramatic game-ending catch by Mookie Betts to rob Tommy Pham, the Dodgers took the series from the Padres and have now won eight straight, their longest winning streak since 2017.
“I just kind of blacked out,” Betts said. “I just knew when the ball went up in the air, I had to catch it.”
The Dodgers’ ace had all of his pitches working and benefitted from a slight increase in velocity with the four-seam fastball. But it was his signature slider that had the Padres’ hitters off balance.
Kershaw threw 25 sliders, recording 12 swings-and-misses. Of his eight strikeouts, seven of them ended on the slider. Opposing hitters came into the game with a .256 average against Kershaw’s fastball. The Padres went 2-for-12 with seven strikeouts against the pitch.
San Diego’s best chance to score against Kershaw came in the sixth inning when the Padres had runners at the corners with one out. But Chris Taylor came to his pitcher’s rescue, as he stepped on the bag at second on a hard-hit grounder by Wil Myers and quickly fired to first to secure the inning-ending double play.
Over his last three starts, Kershaw has allowed one run over 19 innings, striking out 22 in the process. Dodger starters are 9-1 with a 2.56 ERA and 94 strikeouts this season.
Aside from keeping Padres hitters in check throughout the night, it was also Kershaw that had the best at-bat of the game, drawing a two-out, bases-loaded walk against Yu Darvish in the fifth. Kershaw fouled off two cutters and a slider on a 2-2 count to keep the inning alive. Darvish proceeded to miss the zone with back-to-back cutters, allowing Zach McKinstry to score the go-ahead run.
Justin Turner added some insurance in the ninth, launching his fifth home run. Turner came into this season with only three home runs in April throughout his career. He has nearly doubled that this month.
The last Dodgers pitcher to draw a bases-loaded walk in the regular season was Kershaw on June 24, 2017. If you include the postseason, it was Darvish who accomplished it, in Game 3 of the 2017 NL Championship Series against the Cubs.