Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – If the Giants miss out on the postseason, they have Clayton Kershaw to blame, as they fell to the Dodgers’ ace, 2-1, in the opener of a three-game series.
Kershaw (20-5) beat the reigning World Series champs for the fifth time in six starts this season, tossing 7 1/3 solid frames to pad his potential NL Cy Young Award campaign. The left-hander was touched for just one run on Chris Stewart’s seventh-inning homer, one of six hits he yielded in his seventh straight positive decision.
The last Dodgers pitcher to win 20 games was Ramon Martinez in 1990.
“Twenty wins is kind of a benchmark for all pitchers,” Kershaw said. “All I tried to do was put zeroes up there.”
Jerry Sands homered off Tim Lincecum (13-13) and James Loney added an RBI single to hurt San Francisco’s playoff chances.
The loss dropped the Giants 4 1/2 back of the wild-card front-running Braves and 5 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Diamondbacks.
The Giants came into the series on a rare offensive tear, having scored an average of seven-plus runs during their eight-game winning streak.
Facing Kershaw, though, was a different story altogether, as their only run came on Stewart’s one-out blast over the wall in left.
Kershaw was pulled after walking the next two hitters, and Kenley Jansen struck out Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Beltran to keep it a 2-1 game.
Javy Guerra closed it out in the ninth for his 19th save.
Los Angeles put together a two-out rally off Lincecum in the first. Matt Kemp started things with a single, moved to second on Juan Rivera’s base hit, then scored on Loney’s single up the middle.
Sands’ homer leading off the second proved to be the game-winner.
Lincecum was solid after the round-tripper, allowing a total of eight hits and three walks in seven innings.
“It’s frustrating when you go up against a guy like [Kershaw]. You have to be on your game,” Lincecum said. “This loss sets us back a little bit.”
Kershaw lowered his earned-run average from 2.30 to 2.27. He improved to 12-1 at home this season…Lincecum has lost three of his last four decisions.