After dropping the first game of the series to the Reds 5-2, Hanley Ramirez and Clayton Kershaw decided to get the Dodgers back on the winning track, propelling them to a 2-1 victory on Friday.
Kershaw delivered another fantastic performance, lasting eight innings, allowing six hits and one run, with no walks and eight strikeouts. He mowed down the Reds on 118 pitches, giving up his one run in the seventh inning after Brandon Phillips scored from second base on a Jay Bruce single to center field.
Kershaw is now 5-1 in his last six starts with a .155 opponent batting average, 15-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and just nine earned runs. He has to be the Cy Young favorite at this point, and in past seasons has proved to only get better in the second half of the season.
The Dodgers offense was held to just two runs for the second night in a row, stranding five runners on base and hitting 1-5 with runners in scoring position. The biggest culprits of the night were Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe who both went hitless and left several runners on base.
Hanley Ramirez provided the offensive highlights for the Dodgers, starting in the fourth inning with a leadoff single. Ramirez then stole second base, and advanced to third on a sacrifice fly, just beating the throw from right field.
He then attempted to score the first run of the game on another sacrifice fly to right field, but the play turned Ramirez's inning of highlight-reel work into blooper material as he missed home plate and was tagged out trying to dance around catcher, Corky Miller, to score.
Ramirez later redeemed himself in the sixth inning when he crushed a home run to the left field bleachers with Adrian Gonzalez on base. The two-run jack was the only scoring of the game from the Dodgers, but with Kershaw on the mound it was all they needed.
The numbers Ramirez has put up in the last 34 games are outrageous. A .417/.473/.758 stat line with 10 home runs, 11 doubles, two triples, six stolen bases, 30 RBI, 32 runs scored, 13 walks, and 17 strikeouts.
Carl Crawford also has picked it up in the last week. After returning from the Disabled List with a 2-30 start, he is now 14-33 in the last seven games, including hitting 3-4 on Friday.
Kenley Jansen came out with a one-run lead in the ninth and shut the door on the Reds with two strikeouts to end the game for his 13th save of the season. In his last 27 outings Jansen has 41 strikeouts with just three walks, and has given up four earned runs for a 1.24 ERA.
The Dodgers send Hyun-Jin Ryu to the mound in the series finale on Saturday against Bronson Arroyo. Beating the Reds will bring the Dodgers to 11 straight series wins/ties.
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While 35-25 is very doable, I think everyone here can agree that seeing the Giants finish below .500 would be very satisfying.
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Don't mention that to Brandon Belt!
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