08/15/09 2:05 AM ET
Rough inning dooms Kershaw in loss
Righty throws two wild pitches, walks three in four-run second
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Kershaw, one of the league's best pitchers over the past two months, couldn't stop the bleeding in a 35-pitch, four-run second inning. The Dodgers' offense -- consisting of a home run and double by Matt Kemp, three hits by Manny Ramirez and little else -- never could mount a rally against Haren.
But if the Dodgers had trouble hitting Haren, he didn't have trouble hitting them.
After Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario hit Mark Reynolds in the shoulder with a 94-mph fastball in the bottom of the seventh inning, Haren, with two outs in the eighth inning, drilled Ethier in the back with a 91-mph fastball that drew a warning from plate umpire Jerry Layne to both benches and a shout from Ethier, who was asked if he and Haren had a history of trouble.
"No," said Ethier, "I guess we do now."
Ethier said the pitch "of course" was retaliation. Manager Joe Torre initially said "I think they retaliated. That's the game of baseball." But Torre said Belisario was struggling with his control the entire inning he pitched.
Said Reynolds of Haren: "I don't know if one got away from him. If he was protecting me I appreciate it. That's what guys do, you protect your teammates. I think it definitely set a tone that we weren't going to back down. We may be 15 games out or 16 or whatever but we're still here to play, we're still here to win and we're going to play the game the right way."
More to the outcome of the game was the pitching of Kershaw, who threw enough strikes to fan nine, but also made so many pitches (97) that he was removed after 4 1/3 innings. After being lifted, Kershaw slammed his glove when he reached the dugout, took a swipe at a paper cup on the ground, then later said he regretted showing that kind of emotion.
"But it was frustrating," he said. "It was a bad inning. I could have controlled the damage a lot better than I did. I didn't do it. I felt fine physically, but couldn't put the ball where I wanted it and didn't have control of anything. They had good at-bats. There were no easy outs. There were going deep into counts. Every time I felt I had to strike them out to get them out."
Kershaw came into the game carrying a 5-1 record with a 1.08 ERA in his past 10 starts, but the loss left him 8-7 and the Dodgers are winless in his past five starts. He said it didn't matter that this game featured a matchup of two of the best ERAs in the league, except for the RBI single Haren got in the second.
The inning started with a walk to Reynolds, one of three walks in the inning, which also included a pair of wild pitches and three hits, all this coming after a 1-2-3 first inning with two strikeouts.
"The kid battled," said Torre. "It was interesting. His last bad start he couldn't throw strikes. Today, he threw strikes, he got ahead in counts, but didn't do a good enough job with two strikes. His balls found the middle of the plate."
Relievers Ramon Troncoso, Belisario and Guillermo Mota pitched the final 3 2/3 innings scoreless, allowing only one hit. And the Dodgers made a late bid in the ninth inning against Arizona closer Chad Qualls, putting runners on second and third with one out after a walk to Casey Blake and Kemp's double. But Orlando Hudson struck out and pinch-hitter Mark Loretta lined out.
"We just couldn't do anything with men on base," Torre said of his offense, which went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight, including runners at third base in four innings.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.