LOS ANGELES (AP) — On a night Clayton Kershaw became the Los Angeles Dodgers’ career strikeout leader, the Detroit Tigers had enough timely hitting and put together a great pitching performance of their own to snap a six-game losing streak.
Javier Báez and Austin Meadows each drove in two runs and five Detroit pitchers held Los Angeles to four hits in a 5-1 victory Saturday night.
“It’s been a tough week, and so, when you play a complete game and play clean and get good pitching and some timely hitting, all the things that lead to a win, it feels really good,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.
Báez tied it at 1-all in the third inning with a base hit to left and then had the go-ahead double down the right-field line off Evan Phillips (1-1) in the seventh. Later in the inning, Meadows plated two more runs with a perfectly-placed single between third and short that extended the lead to 4-1.
“He pitched to me yesterday and didn’t throw me one pitch,” Báez said. “I was just making sure he got the ball closer to me and just kind of reacted to it. I was surprised that it was inside the line.”
Mookie Betts accounted for Los Angeles’ only run with a leadoff homer in the first.
Jacob Barnes (2-0) got the win as the Tigers’ bullpen allowed only one hit and one walk in four innings.
Kershaw began the game needing four to pass Don Sutton as the Dodgers’ strikeout king.
The 33-year-old lefty got Spencer Torkelson to whiff on a slider low and inside for his 2,697th strikeout and move past the Hall of Famer.
Kershaw received a standing ovation from the 52,613 fans at Dodger Stadium and tipped his cap after getting the record.
“It was a very special moment for him and his family. These moments don’t happen very often,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I was happy that he could step out of that moment and acknowledge the fans. It was good for him to take that moment and then refocus.”
Kershaw finished the night with seven punchouts and also became the 26th pitcher to reach 2,700 strikeouts. He admitted that he was surprised that people knew he was closing in on the record and how much fans enjoyed it.
“I didn’t really expect it,” Kershaw said of the ovation. “I understand that the Dodgers are a historical franchise and they’ve been around a long time. So the guys that are on that list that I was fortunate enough to pass, it’s a big deal. But I didn’t know that fans would know or honestly care that much. So it was special for me. It was cool to see.
“I tried to kind of brush it off and keep going, but they would not let me, so that it definitely meant a lot for sure.”
Since the start of the live-ball era in 1920, Kershaw has the lowest career ERA (2.48) and WHIP (1.00) among starting pitchers with at least 1,500 innings. He is fourth among active players in strikeouts.
Kershaw has spent his entire 15-year career in Dodger blue. The three-time Cy Young Award winner signed a one-year deal in March after the lockout ended that could earn him as much as $22 million.
One week after the Tigers saw Miguel Cabrera get his 3,000th hit, Hinch said his squad clapped in their dugout when Kershaw got the record.
“You don’t want your guys to punch. But to get that many strikeouts in this uniform, in this ballpark, he’s one of the best that’s ever done it,” Hinch said. “Similar to Miggy, he just wanted to get the game on. He didn’t really want to stop and celebrate but I love that the fans gave him the recognition he deserved.”
Betts began the Dodgers’ first by driving Beau Brieskie’s curveball over the wall in center field. It was Betts’ third homer of the season and the 30th of his career when leading off.
Kershaw — allowed one run and four hits in six innings — retired the first eight Tigers before running into trouble with two outs in the third. Derek Hill lined a double down the left-field line and scored on Baez’s base hit to left to tie it.
Brieske had a better outing in his second major-league start. The right-hander — who was the Tigers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season — allowed only one run and three hits with three strikeouts in five innings.
He allowed three runs in five innings in his debut on April 23 against Colorado. He has allowed leadoff homers in both of his starts.
Tigers: Right-handers Matt Manning (right shoulder inflammation) and Casey Mize (right elbow) are on track to begin throwing bullpen sessions early next week.
Dodgers: RHP Mitch White was placed on the COVID-19 injured list and RHP Andre Jackson was optioned. OF Zach McKinstry was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City and the contract of RHP Carson Fulmer was selected.
Tigers: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 5.03 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season and has had a no-decision in his last two games. He is 1-1 in two career regular-season starts against the Dodgers.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (2-1, 2.55 ERA) tossed his first big-league complete game in last Monday’s 4-0 victory at Arizona. This will be the first time he has faced the Tigers.
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