Giants

With NLCS loss, Dodgers' World Series drought reaches 28 years

With NLCS loss, Dodgers' World Series drought reaches 28 years

CHICAGO -- Clayton Kershaw's playoff renaissance is over, at least for this year. The Los Angeles Dodgers ace flopped at a big moment - again.

Kershaw's postseason resume took another hit in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, finishing off the reeling Dodgers. The Chicago Cubs battered the three-time Cy Young Award winner on their way to a 5-0 victory Saturday night, making it 28 years and counting since the Dodgers last won the World Series.

"This day is never fun, the ending of a season," Kershaw said. "You look back and think about the whole season as a whole. It's tough to swallow tonight, obviously, but I'd rather be in this position and fail than not to get to be in this situation at all."

Kershaw could have started Game 5 on three days' rest, but manager Dave Roberts decided to save him for Saturday night at Wrigley Field. Roberts was hoping a couple more days would help Kershaw duplicate his performance from Game 2, when he pitched seven innings of two-hit ball in a 1-0 victory.

The decision worked out quite well - for the Cubs. After winning a pair of shutouts in Games 2 and 3, the Dodgers dropped the next two by a combined score of 18-6. Even the great Kershaw was unable to slow Chicago's momentum, and Roberts' first season as Dodgers manager ended in disappointment.

The left-hander allowed four earned runs and seven hits while dropping to 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 playoff games.

"I think that the first thing I saw is the Cubs hitters, they had a great game plan tonight," Roberts said. "And there was a couple mistake sliders that they took advantage of. But they were running counts, they used the whole field, and there was traffic all night for Clayton. And he gave it everything he had, but when they did - when he did make a mistake, they made him pay."

Dexter Fowler hit a ground-rule double on Kershaw's third pitch of the night, and the Cubs were off and running. Kris Bryant followed with an RBI single. Then left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Anthony Rizzo's fly ball to the gap in left-center, setting up Ben Zobrist's sacrifice fly.

It was the first time Kershaw had given up two runs in the first inning all season. He was limited to 21 starts this year due to a back injury.

"You get out of that first inning and you give up two, you feel like you have a chance maybe," Kershaw said. "They just kept tacking on runs. I gave up some two-out hits and some homers and some two-strike hits - just a lot of things that you can't do in a game like this."

Fowler added a two-out RBI single in the second, rookie Willson Contreras hit a leadoff drive in the fourth and Anthony Rizzo connected in the fifth. Rizzo became the first lefty batter to homer against Kershaw since Daniel Murphy for the New York Mets in Game 4 of their 2015 Division Series.

It was the first time Kershaw had allowed two homers in a game since April 9 at San Francisco. That was it for Roberts, who hit for his star pitcher in the sixth.

"We have asked a lot of Clayton all year long, so, again, it's just more of you got to give those hitters credit," Roberts said.

While Kershaw struggled against the Cubs, the Dodgers were shut down by Kyle Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman. Los Angeles managed just two hits and four baserunners, with none of them advancing past first.

Chicago became the first team to face the minimum in a postseason game since Don Larsen's perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series.

"We had a 2-1 lead with two games at home and it didn't go the way we thought it would go," Los Angeles center fielder Joc Pederson said. "We didn't take care of business. We made some mistakes, all of us."

Roberts managed the Dodgers to their fourth straight NL West title after taking over for Don Mattingly. But injuries to Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson and Hyun-Jin Ryu hurt rotation depth.

Kenta Maeda, who won 16 games during his rookie season, struggled in the playoffs, and 20-year-old Julio Urias was knocked out in the fourth inning of his first postseason start in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

Los Angeles went with three starters in the Division Series against Washington and Kershaw pitched three times, including a two-out save in the clinching Game 5. When he stepped up again in his first start in the NLCS, it looked as if he might be on the verge of a postseason breakthrough.

But his turnaround came to a screeching halt on a cool night in the Windy City. He dropped to 1-3 with a 6.28 ERA in five career starts with the Dodgers facing postseason elimination, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's only going to make him stronger for the years coming on," Pederson said. "He's had some trouble with his back and overcame it and came and helped us win the division and get past the NLDS. We wouldn't be here without him. He'll be stronger for next year."

Giants walked off by Reds in 11th for second straight loss

Giants walked off by Reds in 11th for second straight loss

The first night at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati wasn’t what you would expect. The Giants and Reds took a 1-1 tie deep into the night in one of the league’s best hitters parks before Phillip Ervin took Ray Black deep in the 11th.

The Giants lost their second straight after a hot start to this trip. They are 2-2 on what they felt would be a trip that could get them back into the NL West race. Here’s what else you need to know from a disappointing night... 

—- The lineup did absolutely nothing against Anthony DeSclafini, who entered with a 4.46 ERA. He was finally knocked out in the eighth when the Giants put two on with two outs, but Buster Posey tapped out to short. 

—- The Giants couldn’t have asked for much more from Casey Kelly, an emergency starter after Dereck Rodriguez strained his hamstring. Two days after pitching the 12th in Los Angeles, Kelly gave up one run over 4 1/3 innings. He allowed nine hits — eight singles — but repeatedly wiggled out of trouble. It helped that he picked Billy Hamilton off.

—- Kelly shared a cool moment with his dad, Pat, the bench coach for the Reds. The two made eye contact before the first pitch and saluted each other. 

Why Dereck Rodriguez's injury hits outside-looking-in Giants at worst time

Why Dereck Rodriguez's injury hits outside-looking-in Giants at worst time

SAN FRANCISCO — Your view of which side was to blame Tuesday night depends almost entirely on which side of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry you grew up on. That much was made clear over the past three days, both in the aftermath of the mini-brawl and when the punishments were handed down Thursday. 

At this point, it doesn’t really matter how much blame to place with either party. The only thing that matters for the Giants is that for the second consecutive year, they found themselves mixed up in a silly skirmish that cost them a player. This time around, the price is steeper for the team, both because of the player involved and the circumstances of the season. 

A year ago, Michael Morse’s career ended with a concussion suffered when Jeff Samardzija crashed into him seconds after Hunter Strickland threw at Bryce Harper. Morse was put on the DL and soon found himself retired, but with a .194 average on a terrible team, he wasn’t going to stick around much longer anyway. Morse admitted to USA Today earlier this year that he looks back on that stretch as “playing with house money.”

This season’s injury will have a far greater impact, even though the hamstring strain Dereck Rodriguez suffered was announced as just a Grade 1. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Giants, who are on the fringes of the playoff race, sure, but are far from the 98-loss pace they were on when Morse went down last season. They still have hopes of making a run. 

The staff got together in Los Angeles and went away from manager Bruce Bochy’s tradition, using the off day to skip the fifth starter spot. That had Rodriguez lined up to face the Reds on Friday night, with the hope that the Giants could build off the momentum from the Dodgers series. He was going to face the lowly Mets next week, too. Those were two very good opportunities for road wins. 

Instead, it’ll be Casey Kelly on Friday, and the Giants will piece it together from there. The rotation is weakened with the loss of a dominant rookie who was soaking up innings like an ace, and the repercussions surely will be felt in the bullpen at some point on this important road trip.

The Giants have no margin for error this season, and they already have found themselves reeling from things like Madison Bumgarner being hit by a liner, Brandon Belt’s appendix acting up, Evan Longoria getting drilled by a pitch, Joe Panik spraining his thumb on a tag, and Mac Williamson suffering a concussion when he ran over a bullpen mound. 

There was blame to be placed Tuesday, but this also is another bad break. Rodriguez was the first from the dugout to reach the scrum, doing what players do dozens of times a year without injury, and he appeared fine as he hopped around the outside of the altercation. Two days later, the Giants admitted their latest beef with Yasiel Puig had come at a costly price.

The Giants will hope Rodriguez can return on the next homestand, but this is a blow to his Rookie of the Year campaign and a big shot to a roster that now has just three healthy starters and really could have used two more Rodriguez starts over the next week. Chris Stratton is an option to return, and Ty Blach is available for spot-start duty. Tyler Beede is on the minor league DL, so you can cross him off. Perhaps Shaun Anderson is thrown into a playoff push. Management surely spent the flight to Cincinnati trying to figure all that out instead of enjoying a successful and dramatic series at Dodger Stadium that was highlighted by Tuesday's shoving match. 

An hour after the shoving had ended, catcher Nick Hundley said he hoped the incident would bring the team closer together. 

“This is a tight-knit group,” he said. “We’ll feed off that. What a great win.”

The next night, the Giants lost in extra innings. They now have lost at least two starts from a player who was the best part of a season forever stuck around the .500 mark.

It doesn’t really matter who is to blame at this point. The simple truth is that the Giants have been involved in several of these incidents the last five years, and they finally paid a steep on-field price.