LOS ANGELES -- Roy Oswalt has been one of baseball's most consistent winners down the stretch -- which is exactly what the Philadelphia Phillies were bargaining for when they obtained him just before the July 31 trade deadline.
The Dodgers managed only three hits in support of Clayton Kershaw and didn't put up much of a struggle against Oswalt (10-13), who has been a valuable pennant-drive pickup for the two-time defending NL champions."He's been a lights-out pitcher -- especially in the second half -- as his career has shown," Rollins said. "He's very consistent in that regard. When August and September comes around, the man just dominates. And that's what we need -- pitchers like that who want to pitch in big games. And we have him."Oswalt is a combined 56-20 in August and September during his career. The three-time All-Star is 4-1 with a 1.90 ERA in seven starts since the Phillies acquired him in a trade with Houston on July 29 -- including a 2-0 win over Los Angeles in which he pitched seven innings in his second start with Philadelphia."He's always tough," Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake said. "This park isn't the easiest park to hit in during the daytime, which led to his effectiveness. But he throws 92-95 (mph) with his fastball, and he's got three other pitches to go with that, so he can change speeds effectively. Today he pitched, in every sense of the word."Oswalt threw 115 pitches, striking out six and walking six. The right-hander, who turned 33 on Sunday, held Los Angeles hitless until Blake lined a clean single to right field on a first-pitch fastball with two outs in the sixth after Oswalt issued his fifth walk."I knew they didn't have any hits, but I knew I had too many pitches to get through nine innings," Oswalt said. "I was just wild. I didn't have any command with my fastball at any time during the game. So I had to work my slider and my changeup pretty much the whole day, and I got a lot of jam shots. That's the good thing about having four pitches."Oswalt finished with a winning record in each of his nine previous big league seasons -- topping out at 20 wins in 2004 and 2005. If he pitches every fifth day the rest of the campaign, he would get six more starts to extend his streak."I never get caught up in wins and losses too much, and I know a lot of people do. But it's more important how you pitch," Oswalt said. "If you throw a shutout and the team doesn't score any runs for you, you're not going to win. If you give up one run, pitch nine innings and lose 1-0, you still pitched a pretty good ballgame."The Dodgers got an unearned run in the eighth off Ryan Madson on James Loney's RBI single off the right-field wall, which would have been a double had Matt Kemp not missed second base and had to go back. But Madson minimized the damage by retiring Blake on an inning-ending, double-play grounder.Kershaw (11-9) allowed two hits and five hits over six innings, struck out 11 and walked two. The 22-year-old left-hander overtook Philadelphia's Roy Halladay for the NL lead in strikeouts with 191 and is second in walks with 76, two behind Milwaukee's Randy Wolf.The last pitcher to lead the NL in both categories at the end of a season was Houston's J.R. Richard in 1978 (303 strikeouts, 141 walks)."Strikeouts happen, but it's nothing you try to do different," Kershaw said. "They were swinging at fastballs a lot, so I threw a steady diet of breaking balls, quite a few sliders and some curveballs, just trying to keep 'em off balance."Kershaw is 0-4 with a 5.18 ERA in six regular-season starts against the Phillies -- including a no-decision Aug. 12 at Philadelphia, when he left after 6 2/3 innings with a 6-2 lead and watched the bullpen allow four runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth in a 10-9 loss.Rollins drove Kershaw's second pitch just over the left-field fence for his second leadoff homer this season and 35th of his career, extending his own franchise record. It was the first time this year that a Dodgers pitcher gave up a leadoff homer in the first inning.In the second, Kershaw got behind Victorino 2-0 and watched his next pitch land in the left-field bullpen. Chase Utley added RBI doubles in the seventh and ninth.
Kershaw's 79 starts without a complete game is the longest stretch by any L.A. Dodger from the start of his major league career. He has allowed fewer than three earned runs in 20 of his 28 starts this season. ... The last time he pitched at Dodger Stadium on July 17, 2009, Oswalt threw a four-hitter on six days' rest and won 8-1. ... Two days after the Dodgers reached the 3 million mark in paid attendance for the 15th straight year, they drew their smallest crowd of the season (37,080).