Houston’s Kyle Weiland is getting better with every start, but he hasn’t been able to eliminate crucial mistakes.
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On Saturday night those mistakes cost the right-hander the game.
Matt Kemp set a franchise record for home runs through 15 games with his ninth of the season to back up a solid outing by Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers got a 5-1 win over the Astros on Saturday night.
Kemp’s two-run shot to center field in the sixth inning off Weiland (0-3) scored Dee Gordon, extending the lead to 3-0 and giving him a home run in three straight games. It also extended his major league-leading RBI total to 22 and his hitting streak to 10 games.
Before the game-changing homer, Weiland struck out Kemp twice. It was the third time through the lineup when things went awry.
”I did the exact opposite of what we wanted,” Weiland said. ”Coming out there in that situation, you can’t give him anything close to hit. I dropped my elbow a little bit there and the pitch just spun up there. I knew it as soon as I threw it I was going to be in trouble.”
Weiland yielded six hits and three runs – both season lows – with a season-high six strikeouts in a career-long seven innings.
James Loney gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a two-out homer to the second deck in right field.
Astros manager Brad Mills was impressed with how Weiland worked through the two mistakes to record his first quality start of the season.
”Here is a young kid that battled really well all through their lineup, and that was pretty nice to see,” Mills said. ”He’s been improving each start.”
Kershaw (1-0), the NL Cy Young winner, struck out nine and allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings for his first win this season after no decisions in his first three games this year. The victory extends his career-long winning streak to nine games, dating back to an Aug. 13, 2011 win over the Astros.
”He is a great pitcher,” said Carlos Lee, who fell to 0-for-12 against lefties this season. ”He was really mixing up his pitches well and keeping us off balance. He was getting ahead in the count all night.”
Kemp, who had three hits including a two-run homer on Friday night, struck out in the first inning and jawed with the home plate umpire for a bit after he struck out again – this time looking – in the fourth.
Gordon had a bunt single with one out in the sixth and later advanced to third on a throwing error by Weiland. Kemp’s first-pitch homer came with two outs and was his first of the season that wasn’t an opposite-field shot to right.
Gordon doubled with two outs in the eighth before consecutive walks by Adam Kennedy and Kemp. Andre Ethier’s two RBI single pushed his RBI total to 21, which is second in the majors, and left the Dodgers up 5-0.
Kershaw allowed a single with one out in the second, but didn’t allow another hit until a ground-rule double by Matt Downs with two outs in the fifth. He intentionally walked Chris Snyder before Weiland grounded into a force out to end that inning.
Houston’s only other hit off Kershaw came on a single by J.D. Martinez with two outs in the sixth.
Justin Maxwell singled off Mike MacDougal with one out in the eighth before he walked Jordan Schafer and Jose Altuve to load the bases. Kenley Jansen replaced him and walked Martinez to get Houston within 5-1.
Lee popped out before Kemp snagged a long fly ball hit by Jed Lowrie to end the threat.
Weiland got back on track after the early homer to Loney. Kershaw singled with one out in the third, but Weiland faced the minimum in that inning thanks to a double play. He sailed through the fourth before allowing a leadoff double to Juan Rivera and walking Loney in the fifth. His defense helped him get out of that inning with another double play.
”He has good stuff, real deceptive,” Ethier said of Weiland. ”He did a good job of keeping us off balance all night. He made one mistake to Kemp there that hurt real bad. But other than that, he pitched a real good game.”
NOTES: These teams wrap up the series Sunday when Houston left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) looks for his first win against Chad Billingsley, who is 2-0 this season. … Houston’s Jordan Schafer has reached base safely in his first 15 games this season after walking in the eighth inning Saturday. It’s the longest streak by an Astro since Craig Biggio started the 2000 by reaching safely in the first 17 games.