LOS ANGELES (AP) - Clayton Kershaw has returned to form since coming off the disabled list and the Los Angeles Dodgers are leading the NL West after a disappointing start to the season.
They can’t wait for the second half.
“Now it’s kind of a sprint to the finish,” Kershaw said. “We like where we’re at.”
The Dodgers (53-43) closed the first half by rallying for a 5-3 win over the Angels on Sunday and head into the All-Star break leading Arizona by a half-game.
“We’re playing a little bit more now what we are. I don’t think we’re a 16-26 ballclub,” Kershaw said, referring to the Dodgers’ start. “Good for us to right the ship that quickly. Thankfully, Arizona was kind of in a tough spot at that time too, so didn’t lose much ground.”
Yasmani Grandal homered and Enrique Hernandez hit a solo shot on his first pitch in the seventh inning for the go-ahead run to help the Dodgers gain a split in the Freeway Series.
Each team won three games in the season series, with four decided by one run.
The Dodgers ended the first half with a National League-leading 129 homers, tying their record for the most homers before the All-Star break set in 2000. All-Star Max Muncy leads the team with 22.
“We still got a whole second half, which is the one that counts,” said Grandal, who went 3-for-3.
The Angels continue heading in the opposite direction. They fell to 49-48 and are 14 games behind the AL West-leading Astros.
All-Star Kenley Jansen retired the side with one strikeout in the ninth for his NL lead-tying 27th save a day after serving up a 10th-inning homer to Kole Calhoun in the Dodgers’ 5-4 loss.
The Angels’ Jefry Marte blasted a three-run homer on his first pitch from Kershaw to tie the game 3-all in the fourth. Justin Upton led off with an infield single to Kershaw and Ian Kinsler followed with a single to set up Marte’s fourth homer of the season and snap an 0-for-17 skid.
The Dodgers led 3-0 in the second. Grandal homered, Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Kershaw helped himself with a two-out RBI single.
Kershaw didn’t figure in the decision, allowing three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings of his fifth start since coming off the disabled list. He struck out eight and walked four on 108 pitches, the most he’s thrown since working under restrictions in his first four outings back.
“Clayton’s one of the best,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Even when at times it looks like he’s a bit on the edge he finds a way to get outs.”
Kershaw escaped a bases-loaded jam in a 29-pitch first. He retired seven in a row before the Angels got to him in the fourth.
“Frustrating you can’t protect a lead like that,” Kershaw said.
Kershaw gave up a two-out walk to All-Star Mike Trout in the seventh and was replaced by Kenta Maeda (7-5), who got out of a bases-loaded situation by striking out Kinsler.
Maeda had one strikeout in one-third of an inning.
Taylor Cole (0-2) took the loss, allowing one run and three hits in two innings. He struck out one.
Trout was 2 for 10 in the three-game series. He walked twice Sunday, extending his franchise record for walks in the first half to 84.
Angels starter Deck McGuire gave up three runs and four hits in three innings. He struck out two and walked two.
SNAP OF THE BAT
Marte and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers snapped their bats in two over their knees in frustration after striking out to end the first and fifth innings, respectively.
Angels: Resume play on Friday with a three-game series in Anaheim against the World Series champion Astros.
Dodgers: Open the second half Friday at Milwaukee to begin a 10-game trip. LHP Clayton Kershaw and LHP Rich Hill are slated to start sometime in the three-game series against the Brewers.
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