Dodgers answer call, find winning feeling
After Kershaw speaks up, club gets complete effort in snapping 5-game losing streak
CINCINNATI -- Whether it was Clayton Kershaw's call for a sense of urgency or just the drop in class of the opposition, the Dodgers pulled out of their five-game tailspin Tuesday night by beating the Reds, 5-1.
Along with home runs by Justin Turner and Jimmy Rollins, three double plays from the defense and clutch relief pitching, there was a win by fourth starter Alex Wood against a team that has lost 10 of its last 11.
Manager Don Mattingly, who held a pregame clubhouse meeting, sent the message that the season began anew with this series opener. Before the game, Mattingly seemed pleased that Kershaw spoke out. After the game, so did Kershaw's teammates.
"He's 100 percent right about that," Rollins said of Kershaw's advice. "It's almost like cruise control a little bit at times. It isn't because of effort, every team goes through that. When it's recognized, guys call that out, and you get back on the grind. Now the marathon is over and it's a five-week sprint. We're out front, and everybody is gunning for just that one spot. We have to show why we're the better team every single night."
Rollins checked off the honor roll for this game, from Turner to the bullpen and especially to Wood, who snapped the club's eight-game road losing streak.
"The way the games went in Oakland and Houston, being no-hit, not really hitting or scoring, it was good to get back on track," he said.
Wood had a four-hit shutout, and had thrown 88 pitches, when Mattingly pulled him quickly with two outs in the sixth inning, Brandon Phillips on first and Todd Frazier (who earlier doubled and struck out) at the plate.
The decision seemed to surprise and anger the left-hander, who pleaded on the mound to stay in, then fired his glove in the dugout. Chris Hatcher relieved and allowed an RBI double to Frazier before J.P. Howell put down the inning by getting Jay Bruce on a groundout.
"To be honest, I waited too long," Mattingly said, wishing he had brought in Hatcher to face Phillips. "[Wood] wasn't going to get Frazier again, he had too good of swings. He wanted to stay in, I like that, but I didn't feel he had enough to get through him again. The swings Todd had the first two times, he was right on pitches, I don't want to give them a chance to get back in right there."
Wood, whose two wins since the Dodgers acquired him have been against Cincinnati, wanted no part of a dispute with his new manager.
"You always want to stay in, but it was a good team win, we played really good defense, it was nice to score runs early, and the bullpen shut it down," Wood said.
Wood also referred to "the urgency Kersh is talking about," which he said intensifies as the days of August tick off.
"I don't know if it was a dire situation," he said of the losing streak, "but I know we need to finish strong here and head home and play good baseball."