More: Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1: Fundamentally Flawed
In a roundabout way, it can be argued that the Arizona Diamondbacks are somewhat responsible for the resurgence of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Fans will recall last September, when the Diamondbacks were steaming toward an NL West title and the Dodgers were playing out the string. Arizona's Gerardo Parra took exception to a pitch high and tight from LA's Hong Chih-Kuo and, well, grabbed his private parts as an insult.
Parra homered off Kuo in the same at-bat, then preened and postured for a bit before circling the bases. The Dodgers weren't happy being shown up, and ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw decided to step forward for his team and plunked Parra the next night.
That night, Kershaw became a bonafide leader. The Dodgers came together as a team, finished 17-9 in September and over .500 (82-79) for the season.
The good feeling, despite a lack of ownership, seemed to have carried over to this season, and now there are new team owners. The Dodgers are the toast of the division, winning every which way possible, and Monday night at Dodger Stadium was more of the same in their 3-1 victory without the services of star center fielder Matt Kemp.
Kemp's bum hamstring kept him out, and ended his consecutive games streak at 399. But the Dodgers did a lot of little things to win and didn't need their star.
The Diamondbacks clearly remembered Kershaw's action from last September, and starting pitcher Ian Kennedy threw behind Kershaw when he was up to bat in the third inning. So what did Kershaw do? He threw high and tight to Kennedy in the top of the fifth. Both teams were warned.
There weren't a whole lot of fans at the game -- a lot of people probably stayed home to watch the Lakers in the playoffs -- but reportedly 24,312 saw a battle of pitching aces. Kershaw won it -- he didn't allow a run and scattered four hits over seven innings.
Dee Gordon, a leadoff man who is quite a disappointment as a hitter but when he gets on base, makes things happen, singled to lead off the bottom of the first. He took third on a wild pickoff throw by Kennedy and scored on a groundout by Mark Ellis.
The Diamondbacks had a great chance to tie, but A.J. Pollock was thrown out at home by the Dodgers' Tony Gwynn Jr. on a single by Willie Bloomquist in the third inning. Close play, but Pollock was just barely out.
Kennedy (3-3) settled down until the Dodgers' sixth, when Andre Ethier blasted a home run deep into the right field pavilion and the Dodgers turned a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly into an insurance run.
The Dodgers, according to SB Nation's True Blue LA, are 49-21 in their last 70 games. They're 24-11 in 2012 and have won five straight. Arizona is 15-21 and 9.5 games out of first place.
The Diamondbacks threatened in the seventh as Ryan Roberts singled and stole second. Pollock hit a bullet right to Dodgers first baseman James Loney, who speared it and got the second out, and the threat eventually ended.
Arizona finally got on the board with Aaron Hill's eighth-inning home run off reliever Josh Lindblom. But Loney and third base substitute Justin Sellers made great catches in the dugout and seats in foul territory in the ninth and fizzled any hopes of an Arizona comeback.
The Diamondbacks are 2-8 in their last 10 games. They're really missing Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Daniel Hudson. One wonders if personnel changes are at hand.