LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw’s first matchup with 21-year-old Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo was a mixed bag: strikeout, home run, strikeout.
Gallo’s two-run shot in the third inning against the reigning NL MVP and three-time Cy Young Award winner helped the Rangers pin a 5-3 defeat on the Dodgers — their third victory in as many days against the NL West leaders.
“This is probably the most frustrating game that I’ve pitched in a long time, all things considered,” Kershaw said. “It was just a lot of frustration built up, for sure.”
Prince Fielder also went deep in the ninth as the teams switched venues following a two-game set in Texas.
Kershaw (5-4) allowed four runs and five hits through six innings and struck out 10 after going 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA over his previous four starts. It was the first career appearance against the Rangers for the 27-year-old lefty, who was born in Dallas.
“It was another battle,” Kershaw said. “I never really felt like I was in too great of a rhythm the whole night. I had a really big pitch count the second game in a row. I’ve got to figure out how to get some easier outs and get deeper into games. But I give them credit, though. They battled me well and put some good swings on some balls.”
Kershaw gave up a leadoff single in the third to opposing pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, then struck out his next two batters before Gallo drove a 1-1 pitch more than halfway up the right-field pavilion for a 3-0 lead.
The homer was the fifth for Gallo, who earlier this month became the first player in franchise history to go deep in each of his first two big league games. This was his first one on the road.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I was just looking for something I could just put any kind of barrel on,” Gallo said. “It’s tough to go up there and look for something when I don’t know what he throws or how he’s going to pitch to me. He threw a slider the pitch before and I got a pretty good look at it. Then he threw it over the plate and I was able to square it up — but it wasn’t easy.”
With outfielders Josh Hamilton and Delino DeShields both on the disabled list, Texas manager Jeff Banister gave Gallo his second start in left after 11 starts at third base and one as the designated hitter. Gallo had trouble tracking a flyball to the warning track by Adrian Gonzalez in the third, but turned himself around just in time to make the putout.
Dodgers left fielder Scott Van Slyke, in his first game off the DL, doubled his first time up and hit a two-run homer during a three-run sixth.
Fielder, originally scheduled to get the night off against Kershaw with the Rangers playing without the benefit of a DH, made his 11th start at first base because Kyle Blanks had inflammation in both Achilles tendons.
Fielder led off the ninth with his 299th career homer on a 3-0 pitch from Josh Ravin, who one night earlier allowed a game-ending homer in the ninth to Robinson Chirinos in the Rangers’ 3-2 victory.
It was the fifth time in his career that Fielder homered after getting the green light on 3-0.
“I think I have it pretty much anytime I want,” he said.
Fielder led off the second with a double and scored from third on an unconventional fielder’s choice. Rougned Odor’s Texas Leaguer dropped in front of center fielder Chris Heisey, and Adam Rosales was forced at second base after playing it halfway.
Rodriguez (4-2) won his third straight decision in a span of six starts, allowing three runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings. The left-hander is 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA in seven starts on the road.
Keone Kela pitched a hitless ninth for his first major league save. Regular closer Shawn Tolleson got the night off following three consecutive appearances.
Dodgers: Van Slyke had missed 17 games because of inflammation in his back. … RHP Chris Hatcher was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 15, because of an oblique strain on his left side.
Rangers: RHP Anthony Ranaudo (0-1) will be recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday to make his second spot start of the season, giving everyone in the regular rotation an extra day of rest. On April 15, Ranaudo gave up six runs and six hits in 1 1-3 innings of a 10-2 home loss against the Angels.
Dodgers: RHP Zack Greinke (5-2) is 0-2 in his last seven starts despite a 2.28 ERA. The Dodgers scored fewer than three runs in five of those games, including last Saturday’s 2-1 loss at San Diego, when the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner went the distance for the first time this season.