Nola shuts down Dodgers as Phillies spoil Kershaw's return
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers have learned how to win for long stretches without Clayton Kershaw and might need to do so again.
Jorge Alfaro drove in two runs, Aaron Nola pitched seven innings of two-hit ball and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Dodgers 2-1 Thursday, spoiling Kershaw's first start in almost a month.
Kershaw, who returned after spending 30 days on the disabled list for left biceps tendinitis, admitted after the game another DL trip might be necessary — this time for a third back injury in three seasons. He is expected to undergo an MRI and will not travel with the team for this weekend's series at Colorado.
"I'm not 'woe is me.' I don't feel sorry for me or for us or anything like that," Kershaw said. "I'm frustrated, disappointed I can't contribute to the team. Being on the DL's no fun. So hopefully I get to maybe avoid that. I'll have to see what happens with the MRI."
Kershaw missed more than two months with a back issue in 2016, and a separate back problem last year cost him five weeks. He called that 2016 injury "very, very severe" and said this one feels more like what he dealt with last season.
The Dodgers have gone 75-46 in the past three years without Kershaw, good for a .620 winning percentage. This year, the Dodgers were 14-12 without their ace.
"Obviously with Clayton's history there's some concern," Roberts said. "You want to make sure he's well and good. We are going to dig into it and see if there's anything to it. Our medical staff will probably dig in more and potentially a scan and see where we're at with that. The shoulder felt fine, it was just the back tightened up."
Despite having to fight both the Phillies and his physical issues, Kershaw still managed to hold the Philadelphia to one run and four hits over five innings, with a walk and five strikeouts. He threw just 62 pitches.
Nola (7-2) dominated in his first matchup with Kershaw. He gave up one with seven strikeouts, closingbye striking out five of the last seven batters he faced.
"It was a good win man," Nola said. "That was the first time I got to face off against him but I look at it as I'm not really facing him, I'm facing the team. But I think overall it was a good team win. I knew going into the game runs would be limited. With Kershaw on the mound, we all know how he pitches."
Hitting out of the No. 8 spot in the Phillies' lineup, Alfaro delivered an RBI single in the second inning against Kershaw and had an RBI double off reliever Josh Fields (2-2) in the seventh.
Seranthony Dominguez held the Dodgers scoreless over the final two innings for his second save.
Nola allowed one run or fewer in five of his six starts in May and posted a 1.80 ERA in the month. The right-hander has allowed just three hits over his last two outings combined, after holding the Toronto Blue Jays to one hit and one run over 6 2/3 innings Saturday.
"I think (Nola) is among the top 10 pitchers in baseball," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. I think he belongs in that discussion, he's that good."
The Dodgers tied the score in the fifth when Yasiel Puig doubled and Enrique Hernandez followed two batters later with a run-scoring single to right field against a drawn-in infield.
SAVING THE DAY
Dominguez was in the minor leagues at the start of May, not making his big-league debut until May 7. Since then, though, he has delivered 13 2/3 scoreless innings over 11 appearances. He has given up just two singles and no walks while striking out 15.
Dominguez received late-inning defensive help on a running catch in right field by Aaron Altherr and a backhand play and long throw to first by shortstop Scott Kingery.
Phillies: OF Rhys Hoskins will not need surgery to recover from his fractured jaw and manager Gabe Kapler said that means Hoskins' recovery should take weeks instead of months.
Dodgers: RHP Tom Koehler (shoulder), who has not pitched this season, threw a bullpen session but remains uncertain when he will begin a rehab assignment. ... LHP Alex Wood had his upcoming start at Colorado moved from Friday to Sunday in part because of lingering cramps in his left hamstring that have affected him in two starts this season. ... RHP Kenta Maeda (hip strain) is set to resume baseball activity Saturday.
The Dodgers optioned ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte back to Triple-A Oklahoma City to make room on the roster for Kershaw.
The Phillies recalled OF Dylan Cozens and RHP Mark Leiter Jr., and RHP Drew Hutchison was designated for assignment.
Phillies: RHP Nick Pivetta (4-3, 3.26 ERA) will start in the opener of a three-game series at San Francisco having allowed just three earned runs combined over his last four starts.
Dodgers: No starter announced yet for Friday's series opener at Colorado. Rookie Dennis Santana is a candidate for what would be his major league debut.