Slugfest! Kershaw wins, Dodgers bang 6 HRs, beat Pirates 8-3
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw pitched his way to freedom while earning his first win in 2 ½ months.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner won't be facing any further restrictions in his next start after a solid outing in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 8-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Five Dodgers homered including Max Muncy with a pair, and the team's six homers were the most they've hit at home since also launching six on Sept. 9, 2013, against Arizona.
"You want to get guys back in the dugout as fast as possible the way they're swinging the bats," said Kershaw, who was limited by a pitch count in his last three outings.
Ivan Nova (4-6) became the first pitcher in Pirates history to give up five homers in a game. Pittsburgh has been outscored 25-4 in the first two games of the series.
"They're horses over there. It's a stacked team," Pirates third baseman David Freese said. "They've just got really good approaches right now and they're on time, all of them are on time."
The Dodgers have 11 homers three days into July and 122 so far this season after slugging a major league-leading and franchise-record 55 in June.
"It's pretty remarkable what we're doing," manager Dave Roberts said. "When I look at what we've accomplished offensively, we're in some uncharted territory."
Kershaw (2-4) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings of his third start since coming off the disabled list. The left-handed ace's two strikeouts were against Nova and Kershaw didn't walk anyone to earn his first victory since April 15 at Arizona. He had two losses and four straight no-decisions since.
"His velo is down a little bit but he's still got that cutter and he works it. He's just a guy that locates," Freese said. "You can sense when he's out there that he trusts every pitch he's about to throw. That's that makes him really good."
Kershaw had not gone as late as July 3 with just one win since his rookie year in 2008 when he didn't earn his second victory until Aug. 7.
"It's kind of what we wanted," Roberts said of Kershaw. "The fifth and sixth innings were probably the best for me. The ball came out well. We can feel confident going forward the reins are off."
Joc Pederson and Muncy homered back-to-back for the second straight game.
Pederson sent Nova's first pitch of the game over the right-field wall and Muncy followed with a shot to center field for a 2-0 lead.
"They have a really good lineup but we've got to be able to do a better job than that," Nova said.
Muncy led off the third with his team-high 20th homer for a 3-1 lead. He reached 20 homers in 183 at-bats, making him the fastest Dodger to reach the mark, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Cody Bellinger set the record at 189 at-bats last year.
"I never thought I could hit this many home runs in such a short amount of time," said Muncy, who has played in just 63 games this season.
Freese provided the lone bright spot for the Pirates, going 3 for 3 with a pair of RBI singles that twice cut the Dodgers' lead to one run, and a solo homer off reliever Yimi Garcia.
Chris Taylor kept the slugfest going in the fourth with a two-run shot that made it 5-2. He went 3 for 4 with a strikeout and finished a single shy of hitting for the cycle.
"It seems to be contagious up and down the lineup, which makes it fun in the dugout," Taylor said.
Yasmani Grandal led off the sixth with a homer and Taylor doubled to deep center field to chase Nova.
Nova gave up a season-high seven earned runs and nine hits, struck out three and walked two in five innings.
"It's not fun to give up that many homers," Nova said. "Sometimes you give up that many runs and you don't feel that bad, but giving up five homers is too much."
Nova's replacement didn't fare any better. Enrique Hernandez blasted a two-run homer on the first pitch from Dovydas Neverauskas, extending the Dodgers' lead to 8-2.
Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp's run of eight hits in eight consecutive at-bats ended when he struck out to end the first. One night after tying a career high with five hits, including a three-run homer, Kemp was hitless in four at-bats with two other strikeouts.
Pirates: RHP Joe Musgrove (right index finger infection) went on the DL retroactive to June 30. He was scheduled to start Wednesday's series finale.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler was moved to the DL retroactive to June 29. He began a rehab assignment for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.
RHP Clay Holmes (0-0, 2.25 ERA) will replace Musgrove in the series finale on Wednesday. Dodgers LHP Rich Hill (1-3, 4.68) took a no-hitter into extra innings in Pittsburgh last August before allowing a walk-off solo homer in the 10th.