Los Angeles Dodgers score 14 runs vs. Chicago Cubs to clinch playoff spot, help Clayton Kershaw reach 20 wins

first_imgCHICAGO — A marquee hanging from a Wrigleyville storefront touted an opposing pitcher as the main attraction Friday morning: “KERSHAW GOES FOR 20,” it read.Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw indeed became the major leagues’ first 20-game winner in a 14-5 victory over the Cubs, but it wasn’t a marquee performance by his standards.This was unlike any of Kershaw’s first 19 wins. He batted before he pitched. He walked the first hitter he faced, something he hadn’t done since 2010. He completed only five innings, something he hadn’t done since June. He hit a batter with a pitch, something he hadn’t done since July. “It was a battle,” Kershaw said. “It was hard today. I don’t know why.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error There might never be a more overt acknowledgment from Kershaw that he usually makes pitching look easy, something his teammates already knew.“Clayton’s the best pitcher in baseball,” outfielder Matt Kemp said. “He always finds ways to win.”The Dodgers didn’t need the superhuman Kershaw, who allowed seven hits and three runs in five innings. That was clear early, when Cubs starter Edwin Jackson was booed off the field after allowing six runs in two-thirds of an inning.By the end of the game, four Dodgers had hit home runs: Two by A.J. Ellis, one by Kemp and another by Yasiel Puig that cleared the left-field bleachers.The Milwaukee Brewers’ loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates later Friday mathematically guaranteed the Dodgers at least a tie for the final wild-card spot with eight games left in the season.center_img There were no plans to celebrate.“We want the NL West,” Kemp said. “I wouldn’t mind having the best record in the National League.”That’s within reach. The Washington Nationals (89-64) are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers (88-66).The Dodgers temporarily increased their lead to three games over the second-place San Francisco Giants, who played the San Diego Padres later Friday. Their magic number to clinch the division was eight pending the Giants’ result.That, more than Kershaw’s 20th win, deserved the marquee treatment.“This was a team win,” he said. “I’ve always said that wins are a team stat. Twenty is a benchmark for a starting pitcher and kind of a cool thing, but you saw today. I wasn’t great today and we scored 14 runs.”Kershaw’s milestone did carry some significance. By improving to 20-3, he broke Orel Hershiser’s Los Angeles Dodgers record for winning percentage in a single season. The Dodgers are now 22-4 in games Kershaw starts. That might have nudged his chances of winning the National League MVP award forward, even as his other numbers took a small step back. Kershaw continues to lead the majors in ERA (1.80). With one start left in the regular season, the 26-year-old is poised to post the lowest ERA in baseball for an unprecedented fourth straight season.“He’s made me look so good for so long, for so many years,” Ellis said, “it was nice to kind of help him get through this game with a little offense.”Ellis’ home runs, both off Cubs reliever Eric Jokisch, were his second and third of the season.Ellis, Puig, Kemp and Hanley Ramirez — making his second straight start at shortstop after a bout with elbow soreness — had two hits apiece. So did Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, who now has seven consecutive multi-hit games and at least one hit in 12 straight. Jamey Wright, Scott Elbert and Brandon League each threw a scoreless inning of relief before Chicago tagged J.P. Howell for two runs in the ninth inning.Rain is in the forecast for the Chicago area today. If today’s game begins on time, the Dodgers will try to win their third straight over the Cubs at 10 a.m. — a game that will be televised nationally on Fox, without blackout restrictions in SportsNet LA markets.last_img

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