Clayton Kershaw walks off the field to a standing ovation after giving the… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
As the Dodgers' streak continued Wednesday night, Clayton Kershaw's came to an end.
A sweep-sealing, 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium was not only the Dodgers' fifth consecutive win, but also marked Kershaw's first triumph in more than a month.
The change in Kershaw's fortune was a direct result of a change in the Dodgers' offense, which appears transformed by the resurgence of Hanley Ramirez. Even with Manager Don Mattingly taking the precaution of resting the recently activated Matt Kemp, the Dodgers pounded out 12 hits and scored three runs in the sixth inning to reverse a 2-1 deficit.
BOX SCORE: Dodgers 4, San Francisco 2
"Early in the year, that didn't feel good there when we got behind," Manager Don Mattingly said. "Today, it felt like Kersh was going go out and throw zeros and we were going to have a chance to get back in the game — and that's really what happened."
While still in last place, the Dodgers' season-best winning streak has closed the deficit to the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks to six games. The last time the Dodgers were that close to the top of the National League West was May 25. Kershaw's last win came five days before that.
"Thanks for reminding me," Kershaw said jokingly.
His six-start winless streak was more of a reflection of the team than it was of him, as he posted a 3.38 earned-run average in that span. His last three decisions were all losses, which explains why he went into Wednesday with a 2.06 ERA but only a 5-5 record.
Pitching opposite longtime nemesis Tim Lincecum, Kershaw found himself in a familiar place in the fourth inning: trailing. That inning, Kershaw served up a two-run home run to Buster Posey that moved the Giants ahead, 2-1.
However, Kershaw said, "I don't think there was a whole lot of panic."
Ramirez explained, "We knew we were going to come back and win the game."
Ramirez, who drove in the Dodgers' first run in the third inning, singled off Lincecum in the sixth inning. Ramirez stole second base, which allowed him to score on a single by Andre Ethier to tie it at 2-2.
Ethier also stole second, which allowed him to score on a double by A.J. Ellis to push the Dodgers in front. Ellis reached third on an infield hit by Juan Uribe and scored on a wild pitch by Lincecum. The Dodgers were up, 4-2.
Batting cleanup, Ramirez was two for three with a walk, raising his season average to .375. He has driven in runs in each of his last six games.
Watching Ramirez, Mattingly said he was reminded of another Ramirez.
"I'm thinking about Manny," Mattingly said.
"That's a good compliment," Ramirez said.
But Ramirez wasn't acting alone.
Adrian Gonzalez was two for four. Yasiel Puig was three for four with a double, giving him his sixth three-hit game in 22 career games. Puig also was thrown out trying to stretch a routine single into a double in the fifth inning.
Kershaw and closer Kenley Jansen made the two-run margin stand.
Kershaw (6-5) limited the Giants to three hits and a walk over eight innings. He struck out seven.
But he was removed from the game — to a standing ovation — upon giving up a leadoff single to Marco Scutaro in the ninth inning. Jansen replaced him and promptly gave up a single to Posey.
But Jansen struck out Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, then closed out the victory by getting pinch-hitter Brandon Belt to pop to Ramirez at shortstop.