Clayton Kershaw rarely gives up runs in bunches.
Especially when the former MVP and three-time Cy Young-winner is pitching the way he opened Tuesday night’s game.
One big swing by Giancarlo Stanton changed things dramatically.
Stanton’s three-run home run to center field capped a sixth inning in which the Marlins’ offense scored five runs off Kershaw and hung on for a 6-3 victory - their third in a row.
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“[Kershaw] was dominating early so you get the sense he was going to take this game with him and call it a night,” Stanton said. “But how quickly things can turn around like that is a big plus [for us].”
Stanton homered for the third consecutive game for the 10th time in his career, and as his recent hot streak continued to result in wins.
Stanton has homered in four games in a row only once in his career, Aug. 14-17, 2011.
Stanton hit the eighth home run in 17 career games at Dodger Stadium and second of his career against Kershaw.
“Giancarlo is a dangerous cat,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We seem to get guys on base. We’ve got guys who get a lot of hits. But when you’re getting power there in the middle of your order, and a guy like that, you put up runs quickly. That’s huge for us.”
Kershaw gave up only one hit during the first five innings. He entered the sixth inning having recorded eight strikeouts and retired 11 consecutive batters. The Marlins were on a 0-for-22 drought with runners in scoring position.
Kershaw proceeded to give up five consecutive hits for the first time in his career.
Following a one-out, pinch-hit double by Miguel Rojas, the bats suddenly came alive as the Marlins (8-11) posted five consecutive hits including four with runners in scoring position.
Dee Gordon reached base next lining a ball off Kershaw’s leg and beating the subsequent throw to first.
Martin Prado, playing for the first time on the road trip, put the Marlins on the board with a single.
Christian Yelich went opposite field on the next at-bat to cut the deficit to 3-2 and reach base safely for the 19th consecutive game to open the season.
Enter Stanton, who drove the second pitch of the at-bat from Kershaw – a 94 mph fastball – 433 feet for his sixth home run of the season putting the Marlins ahead 5-3. On his previous at-bat against Kershaw in the fourth, Stanton struck out on a 74-mph curveball.
“He’s effective with his off speed to everyone,” Stanton said. “But in some situations you can’t keep doing that for a bunch of reasons. You could bounce one and keep the runners going so you have to be ready for him to sneak a heater in there.”
Kershaw pitched one more inning, lasting seven, struck out 10 and walked none in a 104-pitch start.
But the five earned runs were the most allowed by Kershaw since May 10 last season in a single inning or start. Kershaw surrendered five or more earned runs in a game only four times from 2013-2015.
“You just make an adjustment. He was dominating and using his off-speed very effectively,” Stanton said. “It doesn’t matter the guy [you’re facing]. It’s just the at-bats you put together. You could have five bloopers. They’re still hits. It’s the difference of a good at-bat and working the guy and seeing him a few times than a matter of who’s on the mound.”
The Marlins’ bullpen continued its recent effectiveness as Craig Breslow, Bryan Morris, Kyle Barraclough and A.J. Ramos combined to throw four scoreless innings. Barraclough struck out the side in the eighth and Ramos converted his fifth save of the season and third in as many games after not pitching in a save situation the previous 10 games.
The effort helped Tom Koehler survive a wild first inning and pick up his second win in a row over a former Cy Young winner.
“I have flashbacks of 2010 Jacksonville Suns when I’d get pulled out of a game and Stanton would hit a homer and get me a win,” Koehler said. “He’s picked me up before.”
Koehler walked three batters and threw two costly wild pitches in the first inning as the Dodgers plated two runs without a hit. Koehler only gave up three hits in five innings – one of which was a run-scoring double by Kershaw – and struck out three with four walks overall.
Ichiro Suzuki tied Frank Robinson for 33rd on the all-time hits list with his 2,943th hit - a pinch-hit single to left field in the eighth inning. It was Ichiro’s second pinch-hit of the season and 25th of his career.