A year ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks were the unexpected rage in the National League West, the Dodgers this ongoing sad story in Los Angeles.
Now the Dodgers are the surprising leaders in the West, and the Diamondbacks a club in early trouble.
The Dodgers made Arizona’s start a bit more miserable Monday, downing the Diamondbacks, 3-1, before an announced crowd of 24,312 to drop them 9½ games back in the NL West standings.
Clayton Kershaw held the Diamondbacks scoreless for seven innings, while Andre Ethier led the offense with a solo home run.
The game marked the end of Matt Kemp’s consecutive games streak at 399. Kemp was finally held out with a sore hamstring that has been bothering him since he strained it running out a grounder in Chicago on May 5.
The last time Kemp missed a game was Aug. 18, 2009, against the Cardinals.
Monday’s game also showed the two teams have long memories.
The last time the Diamondbacks met Kershaw was Sept. 14 when he hit Gerardo Parra with a pitch and was ejected. The previous night, Parra had admired a home run, drawing Kershaw’s ire from the dugout.
First time Kershaw came up Monday, Arizona starter Ian Kennedy threw a pitch a foot behind his back. When Kennedy next came up in the fifth, Kershaw went inside and backed him off the plate.
At that point, homeplate umpire Marvin Hudson warned both benches.
Kennedy started his own troubles in the first inning. Dee Gordon snapped an 0-for-14 streak with a leadoff single. A Kennedy pick-off attempt sailed wide of first for an error, and the speedy Gordon advanced to third base. Mark Ellis grounded out to second to score Gordon.
Ethier made it a 2-0 lead in the sixth with his eighth home run of the season, a shot that landed halfway up the right-field pavilion. The RBI gave him 33 on the season to regain the NL lead by one over Carlos Beltran.
A.J. Ellis got a hit and advanced to third when James Loney singled on a hit-and-run play. Adam Kennedy’s fly to center was deep enough to bring home Ellis.
In his seven innings, Kershaw held the Diamondbacks to four hits. He walked three and struck out six in raising his record to 3-1.
Kennedy (3-3) left after the sixth inning, having given up the three runs on six hits and a pair of walks. He struck out five.
Josh Lindblom gave up solo home run to Aaron Hill in the eighth inning, before Kenley Jansen closed it in the ninth to earn his fourth save. Third baseman Justin Sellers helped his cause with a terrific diving catch of a Miguel Montero foul into the stands.