LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw’s first home win of the season was a perfect example of how the two-time Cy Young Award winner has made a living out of pitching through early adversity and getting stronger as the game goes along.
Kershaw shrugged off a two-run homer by Jose Abreu in the rookie’s return from the disabled list, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2 Monday night.
“It was one pitch. That’s all it was tonight. One pitch. But he was great all the way to his last one,” Dodgers catcher Drew Butera said.
Kershaw (4-2) allowed four hits over eight innings, striking out nine and walking none. Kenley Jansen got three outs for his 17th save.
“I think Kershaw just continues to fight no matter what. If they get him once, he’s going to keep it right there,” Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “He’s not happy about the home run, but he’s able to put it behind him and keep going. That’s the sign of a guy with a short memory. The great ones don’t worry about the past. They just know what they’ve got to do going forward.”
Justin Turner’s two-run single keyed a five-run sixth inning in which all the Dodgers’ runs were unearned.
“That’s how you win games. You take advantage of one little mistake, and a lot of times it ends up rolling into a big inning,” outfielder Scott Van Slyke said. “Good teams do that. When they get the opportunity, they take advantage.”
Jose Quintana (3-5) gave up six hits through six innings and was charged with all five unearned runs.
The Dodgers parlayed two infield errors, four singles and a walk into the five-run rally that put them ahead. All the runs came with two outs.
Kershaw led off with a single and Matt Kemp reached on one-out grounder that went under second baseman Gordon Beckham’s glove for an error with the infield overshifted to the left side.
Yasiel Puig struck out on a high fastball and slammed his bat in frustration, but the Dodgers got a break when third baseman Conor Gillaspie fielded Hanley Ramirez’s grounder behind the bag and bounced his throw past first base as Kershaw scored.
“He had a chance to get the force at third, but that’s an error and that’s part of it,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “Q pitched a great game, going inning for inning with Kershaw, and he deserved a better fate. There’s no two ways about it. But when you don’t play defense, and give a team like that opportunities, you leave that little crack in the door. And they kicked it wide open.”
Adrian Gonzalez drove in Kemp with an infield hit, and Quintana gave up a two-run single to Turner and an RBI single to Butera after a walk to Van Slyke.
“It’s always fun to get hits, and it’s always fun when you’re part of the run-scoring,” Kershaw said. “Sometimes with us, it takes a couple times to get through the lineup. I knew if I just kind of kept us in the game, gave us a chance, we were going to break out.”
Kershaw needed only 12 pitches to get through the first two innings and retired his first 10 batters before Beckham singled and Abreu followed with his 16th homer. The Cuban slugger was leading the majors in homers and ranked second in RBIs with 42 before missing 14 games with tendinitis in his left ankle. The White Sox were 8-6 in his absence.
“It was nice, coming against a guy like Kershaw,” Ventura said. “It didn’t seem like he missed too much of a beat. When we have that guy swinging the bat good, we’re a better offense.”
The only other baserunner the White Sox had against Kershaw through the first six innings was Moises Sierra, who hit a dribbler to the right of the mound and beat the left-hander’s throw to first base with two outs in the fifth.
Kershaw, who led the majors in ERA each of the previous three seasons, made only 66 pitches through six.
“I was throwing strikes. They were swinging and my pitch count was low those first four, five innings,” Kershaw said. “They’ve got some aggressive guys over there. It doesn’t really bother me as long as I make my pitches early.”
NOTES: The Dodgers announced after the game that RHP Chris Withrow will undergo Tommy John surgery Tuesday. ... Abreu set major league rookie records for homers (10), RBIs (32), extra-base hits (19) and total bases (71) in April and was named AL rookie of the month. ... Beckham committed another error in the seventh, booting a routine grounder by Puig. ... Abreu and Puig, teammates with Cienfuegos before defecting from Cuba to the United States, are among six Cuban-born players in uniform for this series. The others are Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, Adrian Nieto, and the Dodgers’ Erisbel Arruebarrena. ... Ventura gave 1B-DH Adam Dunn the night off even though he is 8 for 13 against Kershaw with four home runs. ... Quintana has not allowed a home run in 43 1-3 innings over his last seven starts, after giving up one in each of his previous four outings.