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Cueto duels with Kershaw, Giants lose to Dodgers
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Johnny Cueto’s night began with a debated balk, and other than that he hung tough with Clayton Kershaw pitch for pitch, inning after inning.
Cueto and manager Bruce Bochy argued with plate umpire D.J. Reyburn about a balk in the first inning that put the Dodgers ahead in their 3-2 victory over the Giants on Friday night, and Cueto said he has never been called for that before even if he’s always moving on the mound and varying his delivery.
“I mean, yeah, it bothers you. You get upset because we lost a game,” he said through a translator. “But again, it’s part of the game.”
Los Angeles then added on with Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI single for a 2-0 lead before Kershaw had even thrown his first pitch during a 13-strikeout performance over eight innings.
Justin Turner hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the ninth.
Bochy would like more information on the balk call, and crew chief John Hirschbeck said afterward Cueto balked twice and first base umpire Bill Welke described it as Cueto “stopped, and then he rocked.”
“I was told that it wasn’t one continuous motion. He’s been throwing like that for quite a while. We’ve got to get some clarity on this,” Bochy said. “We’ve had a couple pitchers that have been in question, which I don’t understand. We weren’t trying to deceive the runner, that’s his style.”
Kershaw (9-1) improved to 7-0 over his last eight starts, and with 82 strikeouts to just three walks during that stretch since an April 26 loss to Miami. He is 3-0 in six road starts and 10-3 with a 1.30 ERA in 17 career outings at AT&T Park.
Turner hit a 2-1 pitch from Santiago Casilla (1-2) to left field to start the ninth and the Dodgers shaved a game off the Giants’ NL West lead to pull within three — though both clubs know this race surely will be decided down the stretch.
The Dodgers have won the last five games against the Giants when Kershaw pitches, and the lefty is 18-7 in 33 starts facing rival San Francisco.
Kenley Jansen allowed Brandon Belt’s two-out double in the ninth followed by a walk to pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco before striking out Brandon Crawford on a 3-2 pitch for his 17th save.
The Dodgers improved to 12-1 in Kershaw’s outings, while the Giants dropped to 11-2 when Cueto takes the mound. He had beaten Los Angeles in consecutive April starts.
Cueto, who was trying to become the majors’ third 10-game winner of the night after Washington’s Stephen Strasburg and Chris Sale of the White Sox, had his home scoreless streak of 29 1/3 innings snapped when he fell behind in the first.
The right-hander struck out eight in eight innings, allowing two runs on three hits with no walks.
“It was a fun game to be a part of,” Kershaw said. “Johnny’s pitching. You kind of see why he’s so good.”
Matt Duffy homered in the bottom of the first, sending an 0-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers for just the fifth long ball given up by Los Angeles’ ace, and Buster Posey hit a tying double in the sixth.
Posey was back in the lineup to catch him after missing three straight games with an irritated nerve in his right thumb, but with two off days, he had five days of rest. He received an injection in the area Sunday.
The Dodgers challenged a ball call against Chase Utley in the fifth that actually hit Utley, and it was overturned after about a minute. Cueto then retired the final 10 hitters he faced in order.
“It’s a tough one to lose,” Bochy said. “A home run in the ninth got us, but Cueto did a super job.”
Giants: INF Kelby Tomlinson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb that happened on a dive Wednesday against Boston but didn’t initially become problematic. He will need a splint for about two weeks. ... RF Hunter Pence underwent surgery Thursday on his torn right hamstring in Dallas and all went smoothly and as planned. He was expected back in the Bay Area on Friday night and at the ballpark Saturday. ... RHP Sergio Romo (elbow strain), who was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for the callup of INF Ramiro Pena from Triple-A Sacramento, could throw off the mound Saturday. ... LF Angel Pagan (left hamstring strain) will begin a three-game rehab assignment with Sacramento beginning Saturday night in El Paso, Texas.
Dodgers: LHP Scott Kazmir (5-3, 4.46 ERA) is 2-0 with 24 strikeouts and four walks in 17 innings over his last three starts.
Giants: Jeff Samardzija (7-4, 3.33) looks to bounce back from a loss at St. Louis in which he surrendered season highs of six runs and nine hits. He is 1-3 in five career outings — three starts — vs. L.A.