Kennedy exchanges brushback pitches with Kershaw
LOS ANGELES (AP) This wasn't the first time the Arizona Diamondbacks have had issues with Clayton Kershaw throwing at their hitters.
It might not be the last.
Kershaw and Diamondbacks ace Ian Kennedy exchanged brushback pitches two innings apart during the Los Angeles Dodgers' 3-1 victory on Monday night - the first of 18 scheduled games between the division rivals.
"Baseball has a way of taking care of itself, so if it happens again, it'll happen again," shortstop Willie Bloomquist said. "I certainly don't mind it, if there's a reason for it. But I'm not the one out there throwing the ball."
The defending NL West champion Diamondbacks are a season-worst 9 1/2 games behind Los Angeles following their eighth loss in nine games. Last season, they finished 11 1/2 games ahead of the third-place Dodgers, who didn't gain any ground on them during a season-ending 25-10 surge.
"We're frustrated. It's no fun going out and losing. We expect to be much better that where we're at right now," Bloomquist said. "It starts with everyone as individuals, and I point the finger at myself. I've got to be better. I hope there's some other guys in this clubhouse who feel the same way, and I'm sure there are.
"We're going to keep grinding. We've never been a team that's been willing to fold our tents and cash in early," he said. "We're not going to do that."
Kershaw (3-1) scattered four hits over seven innings, struck out six and walked three while helping the Dodgers improve the best record in the majors to 24-11.
It was the first time the reigning Cy Young winner faced the D-backs since his 3-2 victory on Sept. 14 at Dodger Stadium, when he was ejected by umpire Bill Welke for hitting Gerardo Parra with a pitch on the right elbow after Parra doubled his previous time up. One night earlier, Parra had taken an extra second or two to leave the batter's box on his tying home run against Hong-Chih Kuo, who had thrown an earlier pitch at his head.
On Monday night, Kennedy threw a 2-1 pitch behind Kershaw and to the backstop before walking him. Kershaw returned the favor in the fifth, making Kennedy bail out of the batter's box on a first-pitch fastball before walking him. Umpire Marvin Hudson immediately issued a warning to Kershaw and both dugouts.
"He obviously didn't like it, so he came back at us," Bloomquist said. "So you take it for what it's worth. It's a long season. It's the game within the game. Nobody's trying to hurt anyone, it's just to prove a point."
Kershaw has yet to hit a batter this season in 52 2-3 innings. He plunked only three in 233 1-3 innings last season, including Parra.
"Old-school baseball's one thing, and I understand what the manager's trying to instill over there, but there's no place for that here," Kershaw said. "It's obvious what they were trying to do, but I don't agree with what they did. It just felt wrong. He's a good pitcher, he had an awesome year last year and I have a lot of respect for what he does on the hill. But if that's how they want to do it, that's fine. He missed anyway, so no big deal."
Kennedy (3-3) was charged with three runs - two earned - and six hits in six innings after going 12-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his previous 17 starts against NL West opponents. The right-hander, coming off back-to-back losses against Washington and St. Louis, has lost three straight starts for the first time since June 15-July 5, 2010, when he lost four in a row while allowing 20 earned runs over a span of 23 2-3 innings.
Aaron Hill homered in the eighth against Josh Lindblom, but Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save in five attempts. The news wasn't all good for the Dodgers, who put All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp on the 15-day disabled list after the game with a strainer left hamstring and third baseman Juan Uribe on the DL before the game because of an injured left wrist.
Kemp was replaced in center by Tony Gwynn Jr., who prevented a run in the third inning with a perfect one-hop throw to A.J. Ellis after A.J. Pollack tried to score from second base on a single to right-center by Bloomquist.
NOTES: Ethier's homer was the first given up by Kennedy in his last seven starts on the road - a stretch that spanned 45 2-3 innings and 168 batters. The last one he had allowed away from Chase Field was a two-run shot by John Mayberry Jr. on August 18, 2011, at Philadelphia. ... Kemp consecutive-game playing streak ended at 399. It was the first one he's sat out since Aug. 18, 2009.
Updated May 15, 2012