LOS ANGELES (AP) – In a couple of months, Clayton Kershaw might need to make some room at home for a fourth NL Cy Young Award.
Kershaw became the first 18-game winner in the majors, pitching eight stingy innings to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers over the San Francisco Giants 3-1 on Sunday.
Yasmani Grandal homered and drove in all three runs for the NL West champions. Kershaw (18-4) allowed only Mac Williamson’s home run in the eighth and was aided by four double plays. He gave up eight hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.
Kershaw (18-4) lowered his league-best ERA to 2.21. His six strikeouts gave him 200 on the season, making him the first Dodgers pitcher with seven 200-strikeout seasons.
“I guess the one thing it does mean is, you take pride in your consistency,” said Kershaw, who missed five weeks this year with a back injury. “I think that’s really important as a starter, to be out there every five days.”
Moments after the final out, Cleveland ace Corey Kluber also earned his 18th win to take over sole possession of the American League lead.
Grandal, who is Kershaw’s batterymate, hit a sacrifice fly in the first against Chris Stratton (3-4) and a two-run shot in the fourth. It was Grandal’s 21st home run of the year, giving the Dodgers a team-record 212 this season.
“He made one mistake, but overall it wasn’t a bad day for him,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said about Stratton. “He’s throwing the ball well.”
Grandal had been struggling, with three hits in his last 37 at-bats. The three RBIs matched his entire output this month.
“I’ve always been confident in my abilities,” Grandal said. “At times it takes a little more than confidence to get the job done.”
The Dodgers improved to 99-57, their most wins since the 1974 team went 106-60. The Indians also won Sunday, leaving Los Angeles one game ahead of Cleveland for the best record in the majors and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
“It’s important, but it just goes to playing good baseball,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And we keep doing that, we’ll keep home-field advantage.”
Should the Dodgers and Indians finish with the same record and meet in the World Series, the Dodgers would have home field because they took two of three games from Cleveland during a series in June.
IN THE DOGHOUSE
Roberts remained frustrated and irritated with OF Yasiel Puig for getting thrown out attempting to steal second to end Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Giants. Puig was benched Sunday.
“It’s important that the guys I write in the lineup, I can trust them,” Roberts said. “Whatever message he gets from it, I’m putting the guys out there that I think give us the best chance to win today.”
Puig improved his relationship with teammates and the coaching staff this season, not that it’s been all smooth sailing.
“There have been some things that you look back that I’ve kept notes of,” Roberts said. “But you have to have the trust in all your players.”
The loss left the Giants 61-95, their most losses in a season since the 1985 team dropped 100 games. They trail the Dodgers in the NL West by 38 games, which would be a San Francisco Giants record for futility and the most since the New York Giants finished 38 games back in 1944.
Giants: 2B Joe Panik was held out with a sore elbow after he was hit by a pitch Friday. Panik did start Saturday, though.
Dodgers: Roberts said LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu is expected to start in four or five days. His left forearm was bruised Saturday when hit by Panik’s comebacker. … Roberts said 3B Justin Turner (bruised thumb) was over his virus but still feeling some thumb discomfort. Roberts said he expects Turner to be available Monday, but the manager has said that on three consecutive days.
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto (7-8, 4.49 ERA) is scheduled to open a three-game series Monday in Arizona. Cueto is 10-3 with a 3.40 ERA in his career against the Diamondbacks.
Dodgers: RHP Yu Darvish (9-12, 3.96) will begin a three-game series at home against the Padres. In his last start vs. San Diego on Sept. 2, he allowed five runs and eight hits in three innings.
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