PHILADELPHIA — Through 10 seasons, 287 starts and more than 1,900 innings, Clayton Kershaw had never given up a grand slam. Until Monday night.
Aaron Altherr hit his second career grand slam, a 418-foot blast to left off Kershaw in the sixth, to lead the Philadelphia Phillies past the Los Angeles Dodgers and their ace, 4-3.
“We had the lead and I blew it,” Kershaw said.
Chris Taylor and Justin Turner led off the game with consecutive homers and Curtis Granderson also went deep for the Dodgers, who opened play with a magic number of four to clinch the NL West. At 96-54, Los Angeles still has the best record in baseball.
The Phillies have been a thorn in the side of Kerhshaw (17-4). The Dodgers’ ace left-hander dropped to 3-5 in his career versus Philadelphia, one of just three teams he has a losing record against.
“You try to make it just another game, but it’s really not,” Altherr said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer, so it’s definitely awesome to playing against him.”
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner was cruising until the sixth, when he allowed a bloop single by Freddy Galvis between a pair of walks to load the bases for Altherr. The Phillies outfielder crushed Kershaw’s 1-1 breaking ball to give Philadelphia a 4-2 advantage.
“Obviously, it was pretty special,” Altherr said. “Thank God I was able to get a pitch to hit.”
Kershaw departed after the sixth and allowed four runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
“Just bad pitches, I guess,” Kershaw said. “The pitch to Altherr was a bad slider.”
Kershaw dropped to 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in four starts since returning from the DL on Sept. 1 after a 33-game absence with a lower back strain.
“He’s really not quite there yet,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “His velocity is down a little, but he’s getting near where he wants to be. He’s still one of the best in the game and a Cy Young candidate.”
Granderson homered to right with one out in the ninth to pull Los Angeles within one, but Hector Neris recovered to record his 22nd save in 25 chances.
Nick Pivetta (6-10) rebounded from a shaky start to earn the victory. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up two runs on four hits with eight strikeouts and two walks in six innings.
Taylor led off the game with an inside-the-park homer. His drive to left-center caromed hard off the metal fence above the wall and far away from center fielder Odubel Herrera, who came up short in his try for a leaping catch.
Turner followed with a drive into the left-field seats to put the Dodgers up 2-0.
Pivetta “pitched very well after that,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He really looked good.”
Chase Utley went 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts and was lifted in the seventh for a pinch-hitter. The beloved former Phillies player, who helped Philadelphia to the 2008 World Series title, received a standing ovation before his first at-bat and loud cheers throughout the evening. It was Utley’s second time playing at Citizens Bank Park as a visitor.
Dodgers: Roberts kept SS Corey Seager out of the starting lineup in order to rest and not because Seager had caused further damage to his sore right elbow. Seager struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
GALVIS VS. KERSHAW
Galvis finished 2-for-3 off Kershaw and is batting .600 (6-for-10) lifetime against the left-hander.
Dodgers RHP Yu Darvish (9-12, 4.08) opposes Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (11-10, 3.60) in the second game of the four-game set on Tuesday night.
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