Ker-show! Puig flip breaks tie, backs ace
LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw became MLB's first 12-game winner with 12 strikeouts in seven innings Thursday night, while Yasiel Puig, Chase Utley and Joc Pederson homered in the Dodgers' 6-2 win over the Angels that split the four-game Interleague Freeway Series.
The Dodgers -- who have 53 wins at the halfway point of their schedule -- have won the last 11 starts by Kershaw (12-2), who allowed one unearned run on three hits with two walks and lowered his ERA to 2.32. He struck out the side twice and at one point fanned five consecutive batters.
Kershaw is 8-0 in his last 11 starts and is 6-1 on the road this year. He's the first Dodger with 12 wins before the All-Star break since Ramon Martinez in 1991 and he expects to start Tuesday and the following Sunday before the break.
"He just has that ability that sometimes where things might not go right and the great ones I've seen have a way of taking it into their own hands and ramping up the intensity and focus, and that's what he did right there," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw's response to the unearned run that allowed the Angels to tie the game at 1 in the fourth inning.
The three-time National League Cy Young Award winner struck out eight of the Halos' starting batters at least once Thursday night.
"Our team doesn't strike out very much," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think we struck out 15 times tonight, which is very odd."
Puig and Utley hit solo homers in the fifth inning off Angels starter JC Ramirez (7-6), who also served up a three-run blast by Pederson in the sixth. Puig's 15th home run was his sixth this month and featured another highlight-worthy bat flip as he broke a 1-1 tie.
• Puig's bat flip would make Yoenis proud
After the home runs by Puig and Utley gave Kershaw a lead in the top of the fifth, he struck out the side in the bottom of the inning.
"One of those innings where we scored some runs and you want to make sure you have a shutdown inning," Kershaw said. "It's pretty important as a team, when you score runs, you shut them down the next inning and have a quick inning and have your guys get back in there and score more runs."
Pederson's eighth home run, estimated by Statcast™ at 421 feet, was his sixth since returning from the concussion disabled list on June 13. The big fly was the Dodgers' 50th in June, a franchise record for any month.
• Dodgers set club record with 50-HR month
Ramirez left the game after being drilled on the right hip by a Puig line drive with two outs in the sixth. He was charged with six runs (five earned) on seven hits, with three strikeouts and a walk.
• Ramirez runs out of steam vs. Dodgers
Kenley Jansen picked up his eighth four-out save and 18th save overall.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Execution, or not: After loading the bases with no outs in the top of the third inning, the Dodgers scored only once, on a sacrifice fly, in large part because Angels second baseman Danny Espinosa threw out Puig at the plate when he fielded Corey Seager's one-out grounder with the infield in.
Seager, returning after missing five games with a hamstring strain, had a chance to do the same on defense in the fourth when he gloved Jose Pujols' one-out grounder with the infield in, but his throw home was on the wrong side of the plate and Cameron Maybin scored. Both runs were unearned.
"That's a play I know he knows he should make," said Roberts, who removed Seager in the seventh inning to rest. "We had the infield in, it was a two-hopper and a play that he'll make nine times out of 10."
Stop right there: The Angels' best chance to get to Kershaw was in the fourth inning after Maybin scored. They had one out and runners on first and second, but that's where Kershaw left them, as he struck out Jefry Marte and Martin Maldonado.
"After that inning, he picked us up huge," said Roberts. "He punched the side out and turned it up a couple notches."
"We've got guys with a ton of pop up and down the lineup. You can't make a mistake and think you can get away with a single." -- Kershaw, on the Dodgers' offense
ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Benches cleared, but there were no other extracurricular activities after Brandon Morrow hit Yunel Escobar with a pitch in the eighth inning. Morrow entered the game with one run in, no outs and runners on the corners and, after striking out Pujols, drilled Escobar in the shoulder with a 96-mph fastball to bring the tying run to the plate. Escobar pointed into his dugout and yelled something, then turned to jaw with Morrow before catcher Yasmani Grandal stepped in to seemingly defuse the situation. Warnings were issued, but there didn't appear to be any intent on Morrow's part. Though in his previous at-bat, Escobar walked for the second time against Kershaw and said something as he made his way to first base, prompting Kershaw to stare him down.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Dodgers are 94-0 when they score four or more runs during Kershaw's starts.
The announced crowd of 44,807 was second-largest at Angel Stadium since the 1998 renovation.
Dodgers:Alex Wood (8-0, 1.86 ERA), with an extra day off to rest his sternum, starts Friday night's 7:10 p.m. PT series opener in San Diego. Despite his nagging injury, Wood is bidding for his first All-Star berth after becoming the first Dodgers starter since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 to begin a season 8-0 and the first since Orel Hershiser in '85 to remain unbeaten 11 starts in.
Angels: The Halos will send right-hander Parker Bridwell (2-0, 2.95 ERA) to the bump to open a three-game home set against the Mariners on Friday. The Angels enter the series 4-2 against Seattle this year. Bridwell, who's made five career appearances (four starts) this season, is facing the Mariners for the first time in his career. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. PT. Watch on MLB.TV or stream blackout-free on Facebook.
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