Scott Schebler hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth and Clayton Kershaw continued his MVP form with seven innings of one-run ball as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Monday night to lower their magic number to 12.
Kershaw (14-6) won his ninth consecutive decision allowing just one run on three scattered hits, with five strikeouts in seven innings. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner continued his sensational second half, improving to 9-0 with a 0.98 ERA over his last 12 starts.
"It was a big win tonight," Kershaw said. "Schebler had a huge homer and Hatcher in the ninth looked awesome with Kenley down."
Kershaw hasn't lost in nearly three months (June 27), and leads the Majors with a career-high 264 strikeouts as he tries to solidify his case for a third consecutive Cy Young Award this season.
"The [Cy Young] is not my main concern," Kershaw said when asked about the prize. "I don't think Zack [Greinke] has much to worry about though."
Corey Seager made his Dodger Stadium debut and doubled in his first plate appearance, scoring the team's first run one batter later on a sacrifice fly by Yasmani Grandal.
Seager finished 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored, collecting his fifth multi-hit game of his young career.
"They're still learning me, and I'm still learning them," Seager said of the opposing pitchers he's faced. "Right now I'm getting pitches I can handle, and I imagine soon I will have to make adjustments."
Grandal started behind the plate on Monday and looked to break out of his slump at the plate. The switch-hitting catcher snapped a 0-for-36 hitless streak at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI on the night.
"It was definitely a confidence builder," Grandal said of his night at the plate. "I've been on pretty bad hitless streaks before. I knew I was going to break out of it at some point."
Jon Gray got the first loss of his career for the Rockies, allowing two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts in 4.2 innings. It was his first time facing the Dodgers as the 23-year-old rookie from Oklahoma entered the game with a MLB record, seven consecutive no decisions to start his career.
Gray was the third overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft and was called up to make his first start last month on August 4th in an interleague game against the Seattle Mariners. He had a career-high eight strikeouts on Monday.
Justin Turner hit a go-ahead RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning, but it was rookie Scott Schebler who broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth inning.
With LA clinging to a one-run lead, Schebler sent a 96MPH fastball from Miguel Castro into the right field pavilion to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead heading into the top of the ninth. It was Schebler's first career home run at Dodger Stadium and traveled an estimated 429 feet.
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"It was nice to give our players a little bit of a cushion," Schebler said of his two-run blast. "It couldn't get much worse in those first at-bats, in that last at-bat, I was looking for a pitch-up, and he threw me a pitch up."
The two extra insurance runs were important as Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was not available. Instead, Chris Hatcher worked a scoreless ninth for his third save of the season.
"It's kind of a byproduct of throwing the ball well, having good luck and Kenley being down," Hatcher said of his save. "That's as simple as I can make it."
The Dodgers victory, combined with San Francisco's win earlier in the evening lowers LA's magic number to clinch the NL West to 12.
Red Sox fan sitting in the first row of first base line tries to rip foul ball away from Adrian Gonzalez.
"What kind of hat did he have on?" Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly asked after the game. "Now it makes sense," when he was informed he was a fan of the Red Sox.
The Dodgers have been great in one-run games on the season as they are now 35-10 in games decided by three runs or fewer.