Home News Clayton Kershaw 7 scoreless innings vs. Reds

Clayton Kershaw 7 scoreless innings vs. Reds

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CINCINNATI — The Dodgers were badly in need of a win after two consecutive backbreaking bullpen collapses, and ace Clayton Kershaw gave the team exactly what it needed.

With seven innings of masterful work Thursday, L.A.’s ace bailed out the team to salvage the series in Cincinnati and end a season-high four-game losing streak with a 6-0 win at Great American Ball Park.

“It was huge,” manager Dave Roberts said. “They’re all big. But considering how we lost the last couple of games, four in a row, the state of the bullpen. It seems like every time Clayton is taking the mound, this is a must-win or he’s gotta go deep and cover innings. He did just that.”

Kershaw started the game with an uncharacteristic four-pitch walk but swiftly got out of the first with a strikeout and a double play. He made quick work of the Reds, needing just 47 pitches to get through the first four innings, and he was able to get out of jams in the later frames by racking up strikeouts. By the time he was through, he’d tied his season high with nine K’s.

At 98 pitches, Thursday’s outing was Kershaw’s longest since April 18, another seven-inning scoreless outing with nine strikeouts. It was his second consecutive start and fifth of the year in which he completed seven frames, and Thursday’s team’s ample run support was no small factor.

“The offense did it again today with six early runs,” Kershaw said. “As a starting pitcher, you’ve got to make that hold up. Very similar to the last game I pitched, against the Yankees, they gave me a bunch of runs early. [I] just try to pound the zone as best I can, and today, it worked out.”

Kershaw’s length was crucial considering the Dodgers needed 10 relievers to cover 8 1/3 innings over the past two games — and 17 relievers to cover 15 1/3 over the past four. Los Angeles needed just one reliever over two innings on Thursday: Tayler Scott, whom the team recalled earlier in the day to replace the injured Noah Syndergaard.

Kershaw nearly didn’t make it to the seventh, though, after he ran into trouble in the sixth. Matt McLain and Jonathan India began the inning with singles, which brought up highly touted prospect Elly De La Cruz, who had already reached on an infield single in the second. And then Kershaw fell behind on a pitch timer violation and missing with a slider low.

That could have been a hinge point in the game, with the Reds mounting a rally and knocking Kershaw out of the game. But after leaning heavily on his slider the entire game, the lefty battled back. He fooled De La Cruz with a curveball for a big strikeout and dispatched the next two batters with a popout and another K.

“We’ve needed every bit of it,” Roberts said. “I think everyone understands the value of going out there and having a shutdown inning, or you’re losing games and you have to win that game. But to have that mindset and mentality to go out there and execute that, that’s why [Kershaw] is who he is. That’s why he has the respect of everyone in the league. There’s just that certain edge that he exudes.”

The Dodgers now head to Philadelphia to wrap up their road trip with a refreshed bullpen. They won’t have their ace against the Phillies, but his mark is felt for what they didn’t have to do in his start in Cincinnati.

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