Kershaw outduels Lincecum again, Giants fall 2-1

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Kershaw outduels Lincecum again, Giants fall 2-1

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Clayton Kershaw impressed just about everybody except himself in becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers' first 20-game winner in 21 years. Fittingly, his accomplishment came against a team he has dominated this season.Kershaw improved to 5-0 against San Francisco with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night that pushed the Giants closer to elimination from the NL West race.Kershaw (20-5) allowed six hits and one run in 7 1-3 innings, walked two and struck out six to become the first Dodgers pitcher to go 5-0 against the Giants since Vic Lombardi in 1946. He did it on what would have been Lombardi's 89th birthday."Don't overthink it," Kershaw said of his strategy against the Dodgers' biggest rival. "You have a tendency sometimes when you face a team over and over to try to change things."Four of those victories came against two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, with Kershaw allowing one earned run in those games. That came on an eighth-inning homer by Chris Stewart."It's frustrating, obviously," Lincecum said. "But when you go up against a guy like that who's having a year like this, you've got to be on your game. Every run counts, so you can't go out there and give him a two-run lead and kind of put the ball in his court to put his foot down because he tends to do that a lot. And it's not just against us."Kershaw issued his only two walks after Stewart's one-out homer. Kenley Jansen relieved him, striking out pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Beltran on a called third strike to end the inning."I love situations like that, tight games, especially when we're up by one," Jansen said. "That's a blessing just being a part of him getting those 20 wins."Javy Guerra pitched the ninth to earn his 19th save in 20 chances. Kershaw hugged Jansen when the game ended."It's a testament to our bullpen tonight," Kershaw said. "These guys picked me up time in and time out. It's a culmination of things. When you win 20 games it's a whole lot of people helping you out back there."Kershaw kept his name in the mix to win the NL Cy Young Award. He's tied with Arizona's Ian Kennedy for the league lead in wins and leads the majors with a 2.27 ERA. Kershaw's 242 strikeouts lead the NL, too."If I were to receive that, it wouldn't go lightly," he said.Lincecum doesn't have a vote, but if he did he said it would go to Kershaw "just because of the numbers that he has."He's leading in a lot of categories and putting up a 20-win season is huge, especially with the team they've got. He's done a magnificent job this year. I'm sure (the four wins against Lincecum) will weigh into the decisions of people, but we're not the only team he's had great games against," he said.Lincecum (13-13) extended his career-high loss total, giving up two runs and eight hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked three. The right-hander got two or fewer runs of support for the 20th time in his 32 starts.The loss ended the Giants' eight-game winning streak and dropped them another game behind Atlanta and St. Louis in the NL wild card race. They trail the Braves by 4 12 and the Cardinals by two with eight games to play."It hurts a lot, just because of the roll we'd been on," Lincecum said. "This is going to set us back a little bit. We've just got to pray for a miracle."Jerry Sands homered leading off the second inning to help the Dodgers win their fourth in a row and move a game above .500 for the first time since April 29 against San Diego. James Loney's RBI single with two outs in the first gave them a 1-0 lead.Kershaw became the first Dodgers pitcher to win 20 games since Ramon Martinez went 20-6 in 1990. The left-hander extended his winning streak to a career-high seven games and improved to 12-1 in 16 home starts."The whole body of work has been tremendous," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "The kid's been doing this every time out for the most part. The performances speak for themselves. You don't need to politic for him."Kershaw departed to a standing ovation with one out in the eighth. He left the stadium carrying a bottle of 2000 vintage Dom Perignon champagne decorated to commemorate his milestone by clubhouse attendant Mitch Poole."If this boy doesn't win the Cy Young, something is definitely wrong," said Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp, who went 2-for-2 with two strikeouts, giving him a career-high 182 hits this season.The Dodgers picked off baserunners three times, with Kershaw involved twice. He picked off Beltran to end the first and later got Justin Christian, giving Kershaw eight pickoffs which leads the NL.NOTES: Kershaw is the 16th 20-game winner in Dodgers' history. ... The Dodgers improved to 23-20 in one-run games, including a 16-7 mark at home. ... Beltran snapped an 0 for 9 streak in his career against Kershaw with singles in his first two at-bats. ... At 23, Kershaw became the second-youngest 20-game winner in Dodgers' history behind Martinez, who was 22 in 1990. ... Kemp was chosen by his teammates as winner of the Roy Campanella Award, given to the Dodgers player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher. ... Lincecum fell to 0-3 with a 1.82 ERA in his five matchups with Kershaw this season.

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco …