By Bill Shaikin/Los Angeles Times
If the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants really are the class of the National League West, then the schedule sets up nicely for a classic finish. The Dodgers and Giants play each other in six of the final 13 games, including a season-ending series in San Francisco.
The teams could set up their pitching to use their top three starters in the next-to-last week at Dodger Stadium, and again in that weekend finale at AT&T Park.
Scott Kazmir opened the season as the Dodgers’ No. 2 starter. If those last few games against the Giants matter, the Dodgers would hope he could start two of them.
If, that is, he can solve the Giants before then. On Saturday, for the second time in a week, the Dodgers started Kazmir against San Francisco. And, for the second time in a week, he lasted four innings.
He retired 12 of 23 batters, putting the Dodgers in a 4-0 hole. The Dodgers lost, 4-3, with Corey Seager hitting his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the eighth inning that got the home team within one.
They got the tying run to third base with one out in the ninth, but Joc Pederson fouled out and Yasiel Puig flied out.
San Francisco starter Johnny Cueto took a perfect game into the fifth inning and a shutout into the seventh, before Enrique Hernandez singled home Justin Turner with the Dodgers’ first run.
Cueto gave up five runs to the Dodgers in his first inning against them last week. Since then, he has given up two runs in 131/3 innings against them, with 15 strikeouts.
The Dodgers bullpen kept the team in the game. Adam Liberatore, Yimi Garcia, J.P. Howell and Pedro Baez combined to shut out the Giants from the fifth through the eighth innings, extending the streak of consecutive scoreless innings by the bullpen to 12.
In his first start, against the unimpressive San Diego Padres, Kazmir threw six shutout innings. In his second start, against the Giants, he was handed a 5-0 lead in the first inning and surrendered it all by the third. In his third start, against the Giants on Saturday, he needed 93 pitches to get 12 outs.
His earned-run average in those two starts against San Francisco: 11.25.
Kazmir said the difference between his starts against San Diego and San Francisco was not the opponent.
“No matter who was up there that first day, I was executing pitches,” he said.
Kazmir impressed on Saturday with velocity _ he touched 94 mph _ but little else. He bounced three of his first 11 pitches; two counted as wild pitches.
Neither Kazmir nor Manager Dave Roberts was discouraged.
“I could see him run off a few great starts in a row,” Roberts said. “If his stuff is where it was tonight, we’re going to win a lot of baseball games.”
Kazmir said he was “frustrated” by the results but believed he was making progress.
“I felt great,” he said. “The fastball had more life to it. The changeup was there. It was probably the best I felt all year.”
Seattle 3 NY Yankees 2
Minnesota 6 LA Angels 4
Cincinnati 9 St. Louis 8
Chicago Cubs 6 Colorado 2
Oakland 5 Kansas City 3
Boston 4 Toronto 2
Cleveland 7 Mets 5
Tampa Bay 7 Chicago White Sox 2
Pittsburgh 5 Milwaukee 0
Washington 8 Philadelphia 1
Atlanta 6 Miami 4
Detroit 5 Houston 3
Texas 8 Baltimore 4
San Diego 5 Arizona 3 (14 innings)
San Francisco 4 LA Dodgers 3
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