LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw isn’t even comfortable saying he deserves to play in the All-Star Game on his home field. He certainly won’t campaign for a roster spot, or even the All-Star starting assignment that has somehow eluded him throughout his incredible career.
The rest of the Los Angeles Dodgers are more than willing to say it for him, particularly after another night in which Kershaw demonstrated he’s still among the best in this business.
“Hopefully he gets in there, because he deserves it,” Freddie Freeman said. “He’s been a great pitcher for 15 years, and he deserves the chance to pitch in his home stadium.”
Kershaw polished his All-Star credentials with 7 2/3 innings of five-hit ball, and Freeman delivered the tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ sixth straight victory, 4-2 over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.
Kershaw (6-2) yielded one earned run, struck out 10 and didn’t walk a batter while striking out the side in the first before pitching into the eighth for the first time this season. The eight-time All-Star looked eminently worthy of a ninth selection while shutting down the Cubs at Dodger Stadium, where the Midsummer Classic will be held in 10 days.
“I’ve said it would be a huge honor,” Kershaw said after recording his 191st career victory to pass Dazzy Vance for third in Dodgers franchise history. ”It would be very special, but I don’t want it to be one of those things where I’m taking a spot … from somebody that’s more deserving than me. Thankfully, I don’t have to make that call.”
The full All-Star rosters will be revealed Sunday, and if Kershaw is selected, NL manager Brian Snitker will be under plenty of friendly pressure to give Kershaw his first All-Star start at Chavez Ravine.
“He’s always intense and focused, but tonight there was a different type of edge to him, and a good edge,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He just came out attacking from the get-go. … It was just an overall great performance.”
But Kershaw trailed 2-1 in the seventh before Jake Lamb hit a tying homer for the Dodgers. Freeman then delivered his two-out single to right off Rowan Wick (1-5), capping an impressive rally for Los Angeles’ first lead of the night.
Will Smith had a tying RBI single in the sixth for the NL-leading Dodgers, who have won 10 of 11. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 15th save.
Marcus Stroman pitched four innings of two-hit ball in his first start since June 3 for the Cubs, providing reason for long-term optimism after Chicago’s third straight loss at Dodger Stadium.
Stroman yielded only two singles and a walk in a 59-pitch start after going on the injured list June 10 with right shoulder inflammation, joining fellow rotation members Wade Miley and Drew Smyly with early-June injuries that sidelined the trio for a month.
“It’s never fun being on the injured list or away from the team,” Stroman said. “It’s a journey. There’s a bunch of things I’ve been working on mechanically, and I felt pretty good. All the work we’ve done is starting to pay off.”
Patrick Wisdom doubled and scored the go-ahead run on Trea Turner’s throwing error in the seventh, but the Cubs’ bullpen again failed to shut down LA’s powerhouse lineup.
“With Stro (pitching well), we’ve been getting some good starts here against a really good team,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We’ve been in some games late. The starting pitching has done a phenomenal job.”
After Kershaw faced the minimum 12 batters through four innings, Chicago took a 1-0 lead in the fifth when Seiya Suzuki singled and eventually scored on Yan Gomes’ long fly.
Los Angeles evened it against Scott Effross when Turner doubled and scored on a two-out single by Smith, who’s also hoping for his first All-Star nod.
Chicago went right back ahead when Turner fielded Nico Hoerner’s grounder to short with plenty of time to get Wisdom at home, but bounced the throw.
Kershaw got a standing ovation when he left after Max Muncy failed to handle Christopher Morel’s sharp two-out grounder to third.
LAMB’S A LION
Lamb, the journeyman outfielder who joined the Dodgers late last month, evened it by hitting a seventh-inning homer for the second consecutive night at Dodger Stadium.
“Anytime you’ve got a crowd like this, and you come up and tie the game like that, it’s a little extra exciting,” Lamb said.
Cubs: LHP Justin Steele went on the paternity list when Stroman was activated. … Cubs 2B Nick Madrigal (left groin strain) and 1B Frank Schwindel (lower back strain) continued their rehab assignments at Triple-A Iowa.
Dodgers: Reliever Reyes Moronta joined the taxi squad early in the day while the team checked out reliever Brusdar Graterol, who was ultimately pronounced healthy after leaving his appearance Thursday with side soreness.
Julio Urías (7-6, 2.57 ERA) will go after his fifth consecutive victory when he takes the mound for Los Angeles in the series finale. Smyly (2-5, 3.80) will come off the injured list for Chicago to make his first start since May.
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