Clayton Kershaw clinches the division for the Los Angeles Dodgers — and maybe an MVP award

first_imgThe best moments in sports are usually authored when the action deviates from the script. For the sold-out crowd at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, a Hollywood ending was good enough.Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (21-3) allowed one run in eight innings to beat the rival San Francisco Giants, leading the Dodgers to a 9-1 victory that clinched the National League West title.Kershaw hit his first career triple to drive in the Dodgers’ first run, then watched as Yasiel Puig homered in the sixth inning to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. The 26-year-old pitcher might have made a prophet of the 53,387 fans in attendance, who were standing and shouting “M-V-P” in near unison as he walked off the mound.The victory assured the Dodgers of their second straight division title and an automatic trip to the National League Division Series, which begins Oct. 3. Their opponent — either the Washington Nationals or St. Louis Cardinals — will be determined over the final four days of the regular season.The Dodgers can enjoy a well-earned day off today, a time for manager Don Mattingly to begin formulating his NLDS roster.Baseball’s awards voters, meanwhile, can contemplate their ballots. Kershaw might become the first pitcher to win the National League MVP award since Bob Gibson in 1968. If not that and a third Cy Young Award — a cinch at this stage of the season — Kershaw is assured a place in baseball’s record books. If he doesn’t pitch another inning before the playoffs, Kershaw will finish with a major-league leading 1.77 earned-run average. No pitcher has led the majors in ERA in four straight seasons. Kershaw also leads the National League in wins (21) and strikeouts (239) despite not pitching the entire month of April.One more stat to consider: In four starts this season against the Giants, the Dodgers’ only rival for a division title, Kershaw went 3-0 and allowed six runs. He averaged eight innings in those four starts.Wednesday’s game was a tense battle until Puig’s home run off Giants starter Tim Hudson (9-13) sparked a four-run inning, turning a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 Dodgers lead. The Dodgers added four more runs in the eighth inning off the Giants’ bullpen to seal the deal.Puig wowed the crowd with his bat and his arm, throwing out Gregor Blanco trying to go from first to third on a single in the seventh inning. He leads the National League with 14 outfield assists.Carl Crawford and Juan Uribe each had two of the Dodgers’ eight hits. Uribe missed a home run just a few feet wide of the foul pole in left field.Former Giants closer Brian Wilson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth inning.The Dodgers enjoyed a postgame celebration fueled by 24 cases of beer, 204 bottles of champagne and four cases of Martinelli’s sparkling cider. Major League Baseball does not permit alcohol on its fields.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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