Despite Ejection, Dodgers' Kershaw Wins 19th

Clayton Kershaw put the Cy Young race, his pursuit of 20 wins and the pitchers' Triple Crown on the backburner when he plunked Gerardo Parra in the sixth inning last night. At least, home plate umpire Bill Welke thought so. Welke ejected Kershaw. Kershaw, catcher Rod Barajas and manager Don Mattingly was ejected as well, but the Dodgers held on for a 3-2 victory over the Diamondbacks.

"I'm not disappointed at all," Kershaw said. "We got a win. It was awesome. The bullpen picked me up. It was awesome. I wish I didn't have to give them four innings. But (Josh) Lindblom was awesome. It was huge. Big team win tonight and I'm thankful for it."

The quick ejection was based on the previous night. Actually, it goes back to July 31. On that day, Parra hit a home run off Hong-Chih Kuo and admired it, perhaps a little longer than Kuo and the Dodgers would have liked.

Then on Tuesday, Kuo faced Parra and threw a pitch up and in as Parra was squaring to bunt. Perhaps the ball got away from Kuo. After all, he's had little idea where the ball is going for most of the year and has battled a case of the yips. Clearly, Parra thought it was intentional.

Later in the at-bat, Parra hit another home run off Kuo, and he admired it even longer. He looked at Kuo as he rounded first base. As he crossed home, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis had strong words for Parra.

From the Dodgers' dugout, Kershaw was the most livid. He was screaming in the direction of Parra and the Diamondbacks' dugout. The normally mild-mannered Kershaw appeared to be saying, if you read lips, something like "let's go" or "right now."

So clearly, there was tension entering the game and the umpires were paying close attention. Former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, now a baseball executive in charge of umpires, talked to Mattingly before the game. Crew chief Tim Tschida said the teams were not warned before the game, but Arizona starter Daniel Hudson said the pitchers were on notice.

Parra was down 0-2 in his first at-bat. Kershaw missed high and a little inside for ball two, and then Parra hit a double into the left-center gap on a 2-2 pitch.

That was the only baserunner Kershaw had allowed when he faced Parra for the second time, in the sixth inning. The first pitch was a strike. The second pitch nailed Parra just above the elbow.

Those who think it was intentional would note that Kershaw had qualified for the victory by that point.

"I didn't mean to (hit him)," Kershaw said. "First at-bat, I threw him away and he hit a double. The next at-bat, I have to pitch him in. It's just unfortunate, in my opinion. It's just too strict. Bill is back there trying to make sure everything is OK. I understand that he's got a job to do. But pay attention to the game and understand what's going on a little better."

The Dodgers' bullpen bailed out Kershaw with four innings to allow him to win his 19th game, tied with Ian Kennedy for most in the National League. Kershaw now leads the league in the pitchers' Triple Crown

categories. Earlier in the day, Roy Halladay threw a six-hit shutout to win his 18th game and temporarily took over the ERA lead at 2.34 for the year.

Johnny Cueto lowered his ERA to 2.31 with 3 2/3 scoreless innings, also temporarily taking over the league lead. But he left the game early with a strained muscle in his upper right back. With only 156 innings, Cueto might not qualify for the ERA title if the injury lingers.

Kershaw's five scoreless innings lowered his ERA to 2.30, making him the third different ERA leader of the day. Kershaw struck out five and has 236 for the season, also No. 1.

Will that add up to a Cy Young award?

"He makes a pretty good case for himself every time out," Mattingly said. "If not the best pitcher in baseball or in the NL this year, he's got to be right there. You really can't get much better than the way he's thrown the ball."

Colletti Outlines Priorities
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti looked ahead to the 2012 season and discussed some of his winter priorities with MLB's Ken Gurnick.

Colletti said the team won't undergo any major changes, noting that the Dodgers can contend as long as the offense is consistent.  Indeed, L.A. is 30-21 since the All-Star break, with Juan Rivera providing the club with an offensive spark.

Colletti hasn't yet discussed next year's payroll with owner Frank McCourt, which the GM noted is "not unusual" given that it's still in early September.  

"Up there in the top echelon of priorities" is signing Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to multiyear extensions. The Dodgers hadn't yet discussed a long-term deal with his client.

Clayton Kershaw could also be an extension candidate but, as Colletti said, "it's less a priority for somebody with three years of arbitration."  Kershaw is due for a big pay raise this winter as he enters the arbitration process for the first time.

If Hiroki Kuroda doesn't return to Japan, Colletti said the Dodgers would be interested in bringing the right-hander back to Los Angeles. James Loney's recent hot streak is "more indicative of him and how he's hit the rest of his career," said Colletti.  Loney has long been considered a non-tender candidate this winter since he's due a raise to around $6MM through arbitration and has a .711 OPS on the season, though he has a .382/.450/.629 line over his last 27 games.

"It's never been easy to build through free agency and I really don't like to do it," Colletti said.  "We do it when pressed, when we don't have a player coming through the system or on the Major League roster, but it's always more precarious than developing or trading."  That said, the GM didn't totally rule out the prospect of signing a big-hitting free agent like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder.

Future is on Display
The Dodgers were selling their past before a recent game. They handed out a Brooklyn Dodgers throwback Fleece Blanket. Don Newcombe threw out the first pitch. Ralph Mauriello performed the National Anthem. Wally Moon announced, "It's time for Dodgers Baseball."

Then the game started, and the future was on display -- the good and the bad.

Rookie Javy Guerra pitched a quick scoreless ninth inning, then walked in the winning run in the 10th inning in Arizona's 5-4 win. He actually threw 13 consecutive balls at one point, including an intentional walk.

"We asked Javy a little extra tonight, going back out there for a second inning," manager Don Mattingly said. "His pitch count was real low in the first inning. It was uncharacteristic for Javy to walk a few guys.

It's part of the process for Javy to continue to work through all the experiences that we'll go through. I'm sure Javy will learn from it and bounce back."

The Dodgers' "tragic number" to get eliminated from the National League West is one. For the wild card, their tragic number is four.

Guerra's night was part of the bad. The good was on display with the previous reliever.

Kenley Jansen finally allowed an extra-base hit. It was his first since May 23. Of course, it was a broken-bat, opposite-field blooper to right field. Jansen struck out three more batters in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving him 80 whiffs in 47 innings.

There was good and bad with the young hitters.

Dee Gordon started the game with a hustle double and scored a run. Then he was hitless in his next four at-bats, including a short flyout to center in the ninth. Gordon was batting with two runners on base and two outs. He chased some high pitches and it wasn't the best at-bat.

Jerry Sands followed up his three-hit night from Monday by reaching base all four times. He had two hits and two walks and made a tough catch as he reached into the stands down the left-field line.

That it came against Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy makes the performance even better. In the ninth, Sands nearly won the game with a walk-off homer, but it went foul. He laid off some tough pitches and worked a walk against reliever Micah Owings.

It's all part of the learning curve for the Dodgers' younger players.

For now, catcher Tim Federowicz is just soaking all this in. But he'll start playing as soon as Thursday, once Arizona leaves town with a (in theory) playoff race. When the Pirates arrive for a four-game series this weekend, Federowicz will start his on-the-job training, too.

Dodgers Open 2012 on The Road
The Dodgers open the 2012 regular season in San Diego against the Padres with a four-game series starting on Thursday, April 5, according to the tentative schedule released on Wednesday by Major League Baseball.

Among the early highlights of the schedule will be April 10 against Pittsburgh at home, the 50th anniversary of the first game played at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers first played at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, April 10, 1962, against the Cincinnati Reds. The starting lineup that day consisted of Maury Wills, Jim Gilliam, Wally Moon, Duke Snider, Johnny Roseboro, Ron Fairly, Daryl Spencer, Willie Davis and Johnny Podres. The Dodgers lost that game, 6-3.

Another highlight comes April 15, which marks the celebration of Jackie Robinson Day at home against the Padres. The Dodgers, being the only team for which Robinson played, traditionally request and receive a home game on the date marking his Major League debut.

Sizzling Start
The Dodgers have gone 14-4 in Juan Rivera's 18 starts in the cleanup spot and Rivera has been a big part of the club's second-half resurgence with a .298 batting average, three homers and 34 RBI in 49 games. Rivera's 34 RBI are the third most by a Los Angeles Dodger player who made his debut after the All-Star break:  

Most RBIs by LA Dodger Making
Team Debut after All-Star Break
Manny Ramirez, 2008                       53
Steve Finley, 2004                              46
Juan Rivera, 2011                             34
Jeromy Burnitz, 2003                        32
Wilson Betemit, 2006                        24

Manny Being Bad Manny
Manny Ramirez, 39, could get up to a year in jail if convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery charges after allegedly roughing up his wife. He was released on $2,500 bail Tuesday after spending the night in the Broward County Jail, with little to say to a knot of waiting reporters.

After a brief court appearance, Ramirez was ordered by County Judge John Hurley to have no direct contact with his wife. An attorney who attended the hearing on Ramirez's behalf did not immediately respond Tuesday to an email requesting comment.

Arizona Takes a Big One
The Arizona Diamondbacks took a big one from the Dodgers when Dodger communications vice president Josh Rawitch is leaving the club after the season to become senior VP of communications for the Diamondbacks, whose organization and fans are sure to benefit from his presence. He'll join former Dodgers Derrick Hall (the DBacks CEO) and Kirk Gibson (Arizona's Manager.)

Rawitch was a major asset for the franchise. He worked tirelessly not only to put the Dodgers' best foot forward but to make the fans' experience the best he possibly could, often going well beyond the call of duty.

Hall certainly knows this well ... he was the Dodgers' head of communications before Rawich.

Rawitch was an friend and one of the first in all of professional sports to accept that a place outside the mainstream media might still be worthy of being treated with respect. Professionally and personally, he will be missed.

The Dodgers snapped their three-game losing streak and salvaged the series finale with a 3-2 victory over the D-backs. Los Angeles improved to 52-26 (.667) when scoring first and to 15-7 in one-run games at home.

Clayton Kershaw was ejected after hitting Gerardo Parra to lead off the sixth inning for his second career ejection (other: July 20, 2010 vs. San Francisco). Kershaw was dominant to that point, allowing just two baserunners (double, hit batter) and striking out five in 5.0+ innings. Kershaw tied Ian Kennedy for the National League lead with his 19th win, which is the most for a Dodger since Ramon Martinez went 20-6 in 1990, and also tied his career-long winning streak by winning his sixth consecutive decision. The 23-year-old lowered his ERA to 2.30, which continues to lead the NL. Kershaw will be the Dodgers' Opening Day starter at San Diego on April 5, 2012.

Matt Kemp drove in a run for the third consecutive game with an RBI single in the first inning and later stole his 39th base of the season after walking in the eighth. It was Kemp's 110th RBI of the season, which is the second most in the NL behind only Ryan Howard's 112. The 26-year-old also scored twice, bringing his season total to 99, good for second in the NL behind only Arizona's Justin Upton. Kemp became the first Dodger to cross the 110-RBI threshold since Adrian Beltré finished the 2004 season with 121 ribbies.

Don Mattingly was ejected with Kershaw in the sixth for his third ejection of the season (others: May 9 at Pittsburgh, May 29 vs. Florida).

Jerry Sands delivered an RBI single in the first inning, which allowed him to reach base safely for the seventh consecutive plate appearance and gave him a three-game RBI streak for the first time in his career.

Josh Lindblom struck out five and allowed just one hit over 2.0 scoreless frames to keep Kershaw in line for the victory. It was the most strikeouts for a Dodger reliever since Hong-Chih Kuo fanned five on July 27, 2010 against the Padres and was Lindblom's fourth appearance of the season of 2.0 or more innings, all of which have been scoreless.

Kenley Jansen picked up his fourth save in five attempts this season, tying his 2010 total. Jansen struck out three and has fanned 17 over his last 7.0 innings since Sept. 3. He also gave up a run, which is rare. But he also struck out the side and recorded his fourth save of the season. Jansen has 83 strikeouts in 48 innings, an average of 15.6 per nine innings.

Single-A Rancho Cucamonga was eliminated from the postseason last night, falling 1-0 to Lake Elsinore (Padres) and dropping its best-of-five series three games to one. LHP Chris Reed, the Dodgers' first-round pick in June, allowed one run in five innings Tuesday as high-A Rancho Cucamonga was defeated 1-0 by Lake Elsinore and eliminated from the Cal League playoffs. Reed, a late signee, is being converted from closer at Stanford to starter. The five innings was a season high, and he struck out seven. The Quakes won division titles in both halves of the regular season and set a franchise record with 80 victories.

--RF Andre Ethier underwent a 35-minute arthroscopic procedure Wednesday to clean up the wear and tear behind his right kneecap. The surgery went as expected, and Ethier will begin his rehab within a week. The rehab will take place in Arizona, and he is expected to need 6-8 weeks to recover.

--SS Dee Gordon has surpassed Rafael Furcal for innings played at shortstop this year. The injury-prone Furcal, traded to the Cardinals in late July, played in 304.2 innings for the Dodgers.

--Several Dodgers could be in consideration for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, including Matt Kemp, who ranks second in the NL with 11 outfield assists, and Andre Ethier, who played 1,091.1 innings in the field this season without committing an error.

BY THE NUMBERS: 225,000 -- Amount per month, in dollars, that Frank McCourt will continue paying his ex-wife Jamie McCourt in spousal support. Attorneys negotiated a deal so the additional $412,159 in mortgages from six homes and a condominium will come from an account created after the sale of a home near the Playboy Mansion. The couple plans to sell additional property as well. Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon said that until the Dodgers are out of bankruptcy, the team can't be sold. The court case to determine whether the team is Frank's or community property will take place during the 2012 season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He looks like he's starting to relax a little bit. Hits always help. You get a couple hits you just feel better, and that's what you're looking for with Jerry and all the young guys. You want them to take that breath. ... Sometimes it's probably good for them to get a little tired and battle when they're not all jacked up, when they can just relax and play." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on the improved hitting of rookie Jerry Sands. Upon his return from the minors, Sands was 1-for-14. Since then, he had three hits Monday, reached base all four times Tuesday, and went 1-for-4 Wednesday and Thursday. He knocked in his 21st run in Kershaw's 19th win.

--RF Andre Ethier (sore right knee) was shut down for the season Sept. 8. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Sept. 14 and figures to need about 6-8 weeks of rehab. He is expected to be ready for spring training.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (bone bruise on right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 4. He threw a bullpen session June 7. He made rehab appearances on June 21 and 23 for Class AAA Albuquerque, but he felt tightness in his elbow when playing catch June 25, and he was shut down from throwing. He was cleared to begin a throwing program in early August. Broxton threw off a mound for the first time Sept. 12, but he won't have enough time to return to action this season.

--INF Juan Uribe (abdominal strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 24 with what originally was called a left hip strain. Uribe was taking batting practice every day in mid-August, but he hadn't improved enough to be able to run the bases. He got a cortisone shot to numb his left hip. He underwent season-ending surgery Sept. 7 to repair a sports hernia.

--RHP Rubby De La Rosa (sprained ulnar collateral ligament in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 1. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery Aug. 9.

--RHP Jon Garland (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 2. He played catch June 21 but had to shut it down quickly. He underwent season-ending surgery during the All-Star break and began his rehab.

--RHP Vicente Padilla (right radial nerve irritation, sore neck) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14 due to the arm injury. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on May 29, but he was shut down in early June due to a neck ailment. He underwent neck surgery June 16, and will miss the rest of the season. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 6.