LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw pitched eight stellar innings, Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer off Homer Bailey and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Cincinnati 2-1 on Friday night to maintain their half-game lead over Arizona in the NL West.
Kershaw (10-6) allowed a run and six hits, struck out eight and walked none, dropping his major league-best ERA to 1.96. The 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner is 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA over his last six starts after going 0-3 in his previous six outings.
Kenley Jansen got three outs for his 13th save in 16 chances.
Bailey (5-10) lost his fourth straight since his no-hitter. He allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked one. It was the fourth straight start in which he allowed a home run.
Kershaw and Bailey matches zeros until the sixth, when Adrian Gonzalez led off with a single and Ramirez followed with a drive that just cleared the left field fence. It was his 11th homer of the season and 10th since coming off the disabled list on June 4.
Ramirez also singled in the fourth inning and has reached base with either a hit or a walk in 34 straight games, the second-longest active streak behind Joey Votto's 38 in a row with the Reds.
Brandon Phillips led off the Reds' seventh with a double inside first base, and Jay Bruce singled him home two pitches later. Cincinnati got its fourth double of the game in the eighth when pinch-hitter Derrick Robinson tucked a grounder inside third base with one out, but Kershaw retired Shin-Soo Choo on a comebacker and then got Chris Heisey to pop out to second baseman Mark Ellis in short center field on his 118th and final pitch after getting a visit from manager Don Mattingly.
Until then, the Reds had gotten only one runner past second base. That was in the fourth, after Heisey led off with a double off the glove of center fielder Andre Ethier in right-center and advanced on Phillips' one-out grounder. But Kershaw escaped by striking out Bruce for the second straight time – increasing Bruce's NL-worst strikeout total to 126.
The Dodgers put runners at the corners with one out on the bottom half. But the threat ended with a double play started by Bruce, who caught Juan Uribe's flyball in right field and threw to catcher Corky Miller a few feet up the third base line. Miller's sweep tag missed Ramirez, who ran past the plate and was tagged out on the leg as he scrambled back.
NOTES: Kershaw's career ERA is 2.67, the lowest since 1920 by any pitcher with at least 100 starts and 1,000 innings. Whitey Ford and Sandy Koufax are second and third on that list. ... Since the start of the 2010 season, Bruce leads all left-handed batters with 41 home runs against lefty pitchers – including seven this season. ... C Ryan Hanigan, who was behind the plate for both of Bailey's no-hitters, hasn't caught him since the second one on July 2 because of an injured left wrist that has sidelined him for the last 14 games. Miller, who at 37 is the oldest catcher to start in a game for the Reds since Bob Scheffing in 1951, has been behind the plate for Bailey's last three outings. ... Miller threw out Puig trying to steal second base in the first inning. It was the fourth time in 10 attempts that the rookie has been unsuccessful, and the first time Miller has thrown out a runner this season. He is 1 for 8. ... Dusty Baker has an 89-108 managerial record against Los Angeles in his 20 combined seasons with the Reds, Giants and Cubs. During the eight seasons he played for the Dodgers, Baker batted .261 in 139 regular-season games against Cincinnati with 17 homers and 55 RBIs. ... The Dodgers, who dropped the series opener 5-2, haven't lost consecutive games since June 20-21 at San Diego. ... Puig was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.