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Kershaw, Billingsley dominate Giants in SF

Despite the great pitchers in the Dodgers' past, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley have made history.

Payback is, well, you know.

If you don't, ask the San Francisco Giants.

During a three-game series in the Bay Area from June 25-27, the Dodgers were held scoreless, while the Giants scored 13 runs. The tables were turned this weekend at AT&T Park as the Dodgers outscored the Giants 19-3 to take the three games and move into a first-place tie with San Francisco in the National League West.

Clayton Kershaw pitched his second shutout of the season Sunday, leading the Dodgers to a 4-0 win and beating Ryan Vogelsong, who had already beaten Kershaw twice this season. There was also a bit of history made Sunday afternoon.

For the first time since the Dodgers and Giants moved to the West Coast in 1958, Los Angeles pitchers hurled back-to-back shutouts in San Francisco's ballpark.

"Yeah, it's huge," Kershaw said. "It's huge getting back in the race, huge tying the thing up. Anytime you beat the Giants, it's huge."

The defending Cy Young Award winner says that a lot of credit for LA's quick turnaround has to go to the new ownership, Guggenheim Baseball Group, for its willingness to make moves that wouldn't have taken place under the previous regime.

"When you see what the front office is willing to do, going out and getting a guy like Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate for the back of the bullpen, you can really feel (the commitment)," Kershaw said.

"We're really excited about the next couple of months."

As they should be, since General Manager Ned Colletti has promised that the front office will do everything it can to get another arm (Ryan Dempster?) and another bat (Shane Victorino, Chase Headly?). It's a new world that the Dodgers and their fans are getting used to  and it comes just as the pennant races begin to heat up.

Ramirez has gone 7-for-23 with seven RBI in five games since arriving from Miami, while lefty Choate has been perfect in his only inning with the Dodgers. Opposing left-handed batters are hitting a microscopic .138 against him, and with Scott Elbert  the only other left-handed reliever now on the DL, Choate's arrival is even more important.

Also, the disabled list should soon start to get shorter.

Left-handed starter Ted Lilly, who's been out since late May with left shoulder inflammation, is pitching in rehab games with Single A affiliate Rancho Cucamonga, and could return in the next 10 days to two weeks. Even right-hander Rubby De La Rosa is getting back on the mound with the Quakes after Tommy John surgery last season.

Major focus, though, will be on injured shortstop Dee Gordon, who will have the cast removed from his surgically repaired right thumb on August 2, and Gordon's return to active duty sometime in mid to late August will likely cause Manager Don Mattingly some sleepless nights, courtesy of 12-year minor league veteran Luis Cruz.

After picking up two more hits and RBI on Sunday, the new starting shortstop has a 12-game hitting streak going in which he's batting over .400 with runners in scoring position, and has been playing excellent defense. He's playing so well that the Dodgers' plans to move Ramirez back to his natural position at short have been put on hold, and have placed Juan Uribe squarely on the bench. When Gordon comes back, he was supposed to regain his job, with Ramirez playing at third for the rest of the season. But if Cruz continues to play outstanding baseball, Mattingly is going to have a very tough decision to make. A good kind of tough decision, but tough nonetheless.

"I'm working really hard out there," Cruz said, "And I'm very comfortable in those situations, so I'm getting my job done. That's giving me a lot of confidence. I'm looking at it as my time now, and I'm working hard to try and stay here."