LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Los Angeles Dodgers had a new left fielder in the lineup Wednesday night - Matt Kemp. The frustrated veteran wasn’t in the starting lineup the previous five games, but got a chance to get back in there because of Carl Crawford’s sprained left ankle.
Kemp, who hadn’t started a game in left field since his rookie year, was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts on the eighth anniversary of his major league debut. The two-time Gold Glove winner didn’t get a chance to make a putout during the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, but he did chase down a pair of doubles by Todd Frazier - one of which sailed over his head - and had a great look at Brandon Phillips’ two-run homer off Clayton Kershaw.
Perhaps the most frustrated hitter in the Dodgers’ lineup was Andre Ethier, who was 0 for 3 against Reds starter Homer Bailey, and is hitless in 21 career at-bats against him with seven strikeouts.
“He was just moving the ball so well,” Ethier said. “He’s one of those guys who can be wildly effective at times, and other times he can spot up a pitch and throw something in there at 93-94 - then reach back for 96-97 - and it’s moving all over the place. He can throw his other pitches for strikes, too, so it’s a tough combination. In the past, I’ve seen a lot of cutters from him, and tonight I didn’t see one. It was all two-seam fastballs and one breaking ball.”
Kershaw (3-2) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings and struck out nine. The left-hander, who led the majors in ERA in each of the previous three seasons, has a 3.57 mark through his first six starts this year. He missed all of April because of a strained muscle in his back, after beating Arizona March 22 during the Dodgers’ season-opening two-game trip to Australia.
Cincinnati opened the scoring in the first with Phillips’ fourth homer after Frazier’s first double. It certainly got Kershaw’s attention, because he retired 14 of his next 16 batters.
Only one of the last 34 home runs the two-time Cy Young Award winner has given up has been with more than one man on base.
“Regardless of who was pitching, it feels good just to come through for the team and do something positive to get us going in the right direction,” Phillips said. “We haven’t been really scoring that many runs and haven’t been getting many clutch hits. Kershaw’s one of the best pitchers in the game, but tonight we just hit some mistakes.”
Phillips, a four-time Gold Glove second baseman, robbed Ethier of an RBI single in the first when he made a diving stop of his grounder in the hole and threw him out after a leadoff double by Dee Gordon. Bailey escaped the inning unscathed by striking out Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez.
“I feel like defense wins championships and offense sells tickets,” Phillips said. “That defensive play I made really saved the game. I’m surprised I got to that ball. I didn’t really see it come off the bat really good.”
The Dodgers didn’t get another hit until Justin Turner’s leadoff double in the fifth. He advanced on Drew Butera’s grounder to first base and scored when Bailey tried to pitch Kershaw down and in and the ball got through Devin Mesoraco for a passed ball. The run was earned because Kershaw and Gordon followed with singles.
Frazier doubled again leading off the sixth and scored on a wild pitch to give Cincinnati a 3-1 lead.
Bailey (5-3) allowed two runs and five hits while striking out six.
Puig, who has reached base safely in 29 straight games, led off the Dodgers’ sixth with an opposite-field homer to right-center that narrowed the gap to 3-2. But former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton retired Puig and Ramirez on flyballs for the last two outs in the eighth after replacing Manny Parra with a runner at second, and Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save.
Puig’s numbers through his first 152 major league games are comparable to what Mike Trout did through his first 152 with the Angels. Trout batted .308 with 30 homers, 90 RBIs and 138 strikeouts. Puig is batting .327 with 30 homers, 81 RBIs and 138 strikeouts.
NOTE: Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully was back in the Dodgers’ TV booth after missing two games because of a chest cold. … It was Kemp’s eighth career start in LF and first since June 21, 2006. Crawford went on the disabled list Wednesday, a day after he hurt himself chasing a double into the left field corner by Chris Heisey. … Canadian-born OF Jamie Romak, promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque because of Crawford’s injury, pinch-hit for Kershaw in the seventh and grounded out to second on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues.
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