Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly, center, catcher Rod Barajas, center right,… (Jayne Kamin-Oncea / U.S.…)
There were boos and apprehension when Gerardo Parra of the Arizona Diamondbacks batted for the first time against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in Wednesday night's game.
After all, Kershaw had led a chorus of angry Dodgers the night before by yelling at Parra from the Dodger Stadium dugout after Parra lingered at home plate to admire his home run.
Now, with a possible Cy Young Award hanging in the balance, was it possible Kershaw would brush back Parra himself? It was doubtful, and indeed Parra lined a double off Kershaw — and that was thought to be that.
When Parra batted again to open the sixth inning and the Dodgers leading 2-0, Kershaw struck the left-handed batting Parra with a pitch on the right arm, prompting home plate umpire Bill Welke to immediately eject Kershaw from the game.
As a furious Kershaw and his catcher Rod Barajas argued in front of the plate, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly rushed to the field to argue as well — and he got thrown out, too, as Parra stood passively at first base with his arms folded.
But completing one of the more bizarre Dodgers games this season, the Dodgers held on to defeat the Diamondbacks, 3-2, and Kershaw got the win because he pitched the required minimum five innings.
The 23-year-old Kershaw improved his record to 19-5, giving him the most wins for a Dodger since Ramon Martinez went 20-6 in 1990.
The teams had drawn a warning from the umpires during their spat Tuesday night, and Mattingly said Joe Torre, his predecessor as Dodgers manager and now executive vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball, had said before the game that "they didn't want anything to happen."
But Tim Tschida, chief of the series' umpiring crew, said after the game that a specific warning was not issued before the game and none was required.
Kershaw's pitch "was intentional" and "left over from last night," Tschida said.
Not so, Kershaw said, adding that he was merely protecting the inside of the plate and that the ejections were "unfortunate."
After Parra doubled in his first at-bat, "in the next at-bat I've got to pitch him in," Kershaw said. Then, after having taken only a few questions about the ejections, Kershaw said, "I'm done talking about it."
Despite the call from Torre and the warning the previous night, Mattingly said he was surprised by the ejections. "It's frustrating that just because of last night you're not allowed to throw inside," Mattingly said, adding that Parra was standing "on top of the plate."
Kershaw is tied for the most National League wins this season with Arizona's Ian Kennedy (19-4), who also is one of the left-hander's rivals to win the league's Cy Young Award.
Kershaw's earned-run average, already the league's lowest when the game started, dropped to 2.30, while his NL-leading strikeout total climbed to 236 with five more against the Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers also staved off official elimination from the National League West for at least one more day, at 13 games behind the Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers jumped in front early just as they did the prior night. Matt Kemp singled home Tony Gwynn Jr. in the first inning against Arizona starter Daniel Hudson, with Gwynn just beating Parra's throw to the plate from left field, and one out later Jerry Sands singled home Kemp.
In the eighth inning, Arizona's Ryan Roberts led off with a double against reliever Nathan Eovaldi. Parra then hit a deep fly that Sands caught against the right-field wall, with Roberts tagging up and moving to third base.
Roberts scored when pinch-hitter Geoff Blum grounded out.
The Dodgers added a run in the eighth inning when Kemp walked against Arizona reliever Ryan Cook, stole second base and scored on Aaron Miles' single.