Mourning his father’s death, Clayton Kershaw worked out between starts just as he always does and threw his regular bullpen session — albeit to a high-school catcher, on a high-school field, back home in Texas.
It never crossed his mind not to return to the mound on his scheduled fifth day Friday night, against the rival and reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants. His night was done by the time Buster Posey Buster hit a game-ending home run into the left-field seats leading off the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 San Francisco victory.
”I was going to be back,” Kershaw said of pitching on turn. ”It was good to get back and have everything and commemorate his life. But it was good to get back to baseball, too. It’s weird watching games on TV.”
Kershaw, 25, came off the bereavement list to pitch seven impressive innings for the Dodgers only five days after the death of his father, Christopher, and 56 hours following the funeral. Kershaw allowed one run and three hits, struck out five and walked three in a 104-pitch outing.
Kershaw pitched a gem last Sunday — the same day his dad died at age 63 — with eight scoreless innings and struck out 12 in a 2-0 win against Milwaukee.
Then, he had to get his prep work in for this outing.
”What else am I going to do? If I’m pitching Friday, I’m going to have to get ready for it,” he said. ”Definitely a tough week but I had to do it.”
The Dodgers lost shortstop Hanley Ramirez to what manager Don Mattingly considered a significant left hamstring injury — yet further injuries for the club. Ramirez began the season on the disabled list after tearing a ligament in his right thumb in San Francisco’s ballpark during the final of the World Baseball Classic for the champion Dominican Republic in March. He had surgery March 22 — and he had just come off the DL from that injury Monday.
”It sounds like he got it pretty good,” Mattingly said. ”It’s usually a pretty good amount of time. It’s not like he’s going to be back in a couple days.”
Mattingly and GM Ned Colletti met afterward to discuss the team’s infield options considering second baseman Mark Ellis still could need a DL stint.
Ramirez, aboard on a leadoff walk, grabbed the back of his left leg just above the knee after getting thrown out sliding into third as he tried to go first to third on A.J. Ellis’ single. Replays showed he might have hurt his hamstring rounding second base. He was helped off the field by the athletic trainers.
”We can’t keep losing guys at this rate,” Mattingly said. ”This is going to end. Right now it doesn’t look very good. … I’m not confident about anything at this moment.”
Sergio Romo (2-2) struck out two in the top of the inning and survived Matt Kemp’s nine-pitch single for the victory.
Posey connected for his first career game-winning RBI of any kind on a 3-2 pitch from Ronald Belisario (2-3), who hadn’t allowed a run in his previous four appearances over six innings.
Angel Pagan drew a leadoff walk in the fourth for the Giants first baserunner against Kershaw, who then retired Marco Scutaro on a shallow fly to left and Pablo Sandoval on a grounder. Pagan advanced to third on a passed ball with Posey at the plate, so he was intentionally walked. Hunter Pence struck out swinging to end the threat.
Kershaw, who homered against the Giants in the April 1 season opener at Dodger Stadium, doubled to lead off the fifth.
Marco Scutaro’s one-out triple to the gap in right-center broke up the no-hit bid, then Posey’s double to the wall in right two batters later tied the game.
Posey was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Hunter Pence’s single. Posey, the NL MVP, slid with his right leg leading and collided hard with catcher Ellis — bringing back memories of when Posey was on the other end of a devastating collision with Scott Cousins, as the Giants catcher suffered season-ending left leg and ankle injuries nearly two years ago, on May 25, 2011.
Right fielder Andre Ethier made the catch of the night. With Andres Torres aboard on a one-out walk, Ethier chased down a high fly ball by Brandon Belt for a pretty running catch on the warning track in the deepest part of the ballpark in front of the 421-foot sign in right-center.
Barry Zito allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base in each of the first five innings, but twice avoided trouble with double plays turned by the defense. He induced an inning-ending double play by Kemp in the fifth after the Dodgers took the lead.
Zito left with a second straight no-decision after giving up a leadoff walk to Ramirez in the sixth. Zito walked four and struck out one.
He could relate to Kershaw’s challenge after losing his mother and helping his father through health scares.
”It’s never easy to lose anyone in your family,” Zito said. ”Going through what I went through personally with my father and also my mother back in the day, baseball became kind of the escape. It seems like he’s able to come out here and have fun and be able to enjoy the game for what it is. When you’re off the field it’s just a real difficult situation.”
Dodgers first baseman and cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez was a late scratch because of neck pain. He collided with the umpire on Wednesday.
Notes: Ellis missed his sixth straight game since leaving last Friday’s game against Milwaukee with a strained right quadriceps muscle after running out a grounder to the pitcher in the sixth. … Highlights of the Golden State Warriors were shown after the fourth inning along with a congratulatory message for the NBA franchise headed for the second round of the playoffs.