LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three starts into his delayed season and Clayton Kershaw already appears back in his usual form.
Kershaw earned his first win, allowing one run over seven innings to outpitch Joe Musgrove and help the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 on Saturday night.
Chris Taylor hit a tying sacrifice fly and Joc Pederson followed with a two-run triple as the Dodgers rallied for three runs in the seventh inning and sent the Pirates to their season-high seventh straight loss.
Kershaw (1-0), making his third start after recovering from shoulder inflammation, gave up four hits, struck out eight and walked none, retiring 13 of his last 14 batters. He has a 2.25 ERA and has not given up more than two earned runs in any of his three starts.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner is not usually one to compare outings, but did say this was an improvement over his last, when he gave up two runs over six innings at Milwaukee, while walking four.
“I felt pretty much the same,” Kershaw said about his strength as he builds into his season. “I think the one before this one was a little rockier. Not stronger or weak, just a little more inconsistent. But I felt great tonight and I need to keep building on this one.”
Pittsburgh went ahead in the third when Pablo Reyes singled leading off, was sacrificed to second by Musgrove and scored on Adam Frazier’s single.
From there, Kershaw matched Musgrove (1-2) pitch for pitch until the Dodgers broke through late in the game.
“This is a tough stretch we’re going through right now,” Musgrove said. “As a starting pitcher, I embrace the challenge. It’s my turn to go out there and set the tone and try and control the game. I came one out short of that tonight.”
Caleb Ferguson allowed the Pirates to load the bases with no outs in the eighth on two walks and a single.
Pedro Baez retired Melky Cabrera on a flyout and Colin Moran on a popup that dropped next to third baseman Justin Turner after an infield fly was called. Baez then struck out Josh Bell.
“Bases loaded and nobody out is a pretty impossible situation,” Kershaw said. “(Baez) was unbelievable. He dominated it and got us out of there. I can’t say enough about (Baez). That was awesome tonight.”
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 10 chances, completing a five-hitter.
Singles by Max Muncy and Alex Verdugo started the Dodgers’ rally. Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli took a glancing blow to his left side as Muncy scored, but a video review determined there was nothing improper with Muncy’s slide.
Musgrove allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, ending the Dodgers’ major league record of hitting a home run in 33 consecutive home games. Musgrove gave up just five earned runs in his first five starts.
“He’s very collected, he’s a fierce competitor and he expects a lot out of himself,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He pours into his teammates. He is an absolute pleasure to coach and have on a club.”
BUMP AND A RUN
Cervelli was met on the field by a trainer after Muncy bumped him while scoring his run in the seventh inning. Hurdle was asked about the play afterward.
“We’ll talk about it internally,” Hurdle said. “There is no need to share it publicly.”
Muncy said he meant no ill will.
“I didn’t want to hit him; I didn’t mean to hit him. I can tell you that right now,” Muncy said. “It wasn’t on purpose. It was one those things where I’m running straight for it and he came up the line so I raised my arm to brace in case we hit each other and I clipped him. That’s the end of it.
“If they feel the need to retaliate, that’s fine. They’ll retaliate and I’ll be on base and smile because that raises my on-base percentage.”
Cervelli, who said he took the blow to his ribs, was asked if he thought the bump was necessary.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You’ve got to ask him. I don’t know. I’ve got no idea.”
Pirates: RHP Chris Archer was placed on the 10-day IL with right thumb inflammation. … OF Corey Dickerson will not start his expected minor league injury rehabilitation assignment after experiencing more shoulder discomfort. … OF Lonnie Chisenhall had his rehab assignment for a broken finger halted because of left calf tightness. … C Jacob Stallings (neck) started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Dodgers: C Russell Martin was activated off the IL after not playing since April 8 because of a back inflammation. C Rocky Gale was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Dodgers LHP Rich Hill will make his 2019 debut after recovering from a left knee strain. Pittsburgh RHP Trevor Williams (1-1) heads into Sunday’s outing with quality starts in all five of his outings but just 11 runs of support.
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