Rookie Will Smith hit his first career grand slam, and Clayton Kershaw passed Sandy Koufax on the Dodgers’ career strikeouts list while throwing six strong innings in Los Angeles’ 8-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.
Cody Bellinger hit his first homer in two weeks and added a two-run double for the major league-leading Dodgers (72-39), who opened a 10-game homestand with their third straight win.
Matt Beaty had an RBI double as Los Angeles surged into August by taking a 16-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West.
Hunter Renfroe hit his 30th homer and Manny Machado had an RBI single for the Padres, who opened August with another loss after going 8-16 in July.
Kershaw (10-2) is third in Dodgers history and first among lefties after passing Koufax while recording five strikeouts, giving him 2,397 in a career spent entirely in blue. Kershaw struggled with five walks and gave up exactly one hit in every inning, but repeatedly escaped trouble to remain unbeaten since June.
He got another big boost from Smith, the 24-year-old catcher with the Hollywood name who has adapted to the big leagues without a hitch.
Smith connected to deep center off Padres reliever Trey Wingenter in the sixth, taking a curtain call after delivering the Dodgers’ fifth grand slam of the season.
In just 14 major league games, Smith has six homers — including two walk-off blasts in June — and 19 RBIs. He also has 11 extra-base hits after an eighth-inning double.
Smith was sent back to Triple-A for a month after his earlier heroics, but returned to the Dodgers last week with a six-RBI performance at Washington, again in support of Kershaw.
Kershaw went at least six innings for the 19th time in 19 starts this season, earning his 16th quality start. While teammates Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler have stolen some of Kershaw’s usual spotlight this summer, the veteran still has racked up 10 wins for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons.
Joey Lucchesi (7-6) yielded four hits and three walks, but left with the bases loaded right before Smith’s slam.
Renfroe led off the second with a solo shot, securing his first 30-homer season with two months to spare.
Bellinger answered with a 425-foot shot into right for his 35th homer on Lucchesi’s first pitch of the bottom half. The NL leader in wins above replacement hadn’t homered since July 16, matching his longest homer drought of the season at 12 games.
Kershaw tied Koufax with his 2,396th career strikeout to end the fifth, fanning Renfroe with two on. Kershaw then struck out Austin Hedges in the sixth to pull even with Kevin Brown for 49th place on baseball’s career list.
Koufax recorded his 2,396 strikeouts over 397 games and 2,324 1/3 innings, while Kershaw matched that total in 337 games and 2,218 1/3 innings.
Dodgers: LF Alex Verdugo was a late scratch with left knee soreness. Beaty took his spot and had two hits. … Trade-deadline acquisition Jedd Gyorko was in the clubhouse before the game. He is headed to Double-A Tulsa to start a rehab assignment Friday. He hadn’t played for St. Louis since June 7 due to injuries to his back, calf and wrist. The Padres are paying $5 million of Gyorko’s $13 million salary this season.
Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, makes his major league debut against San Diego’s Eric Lauer (5-8, 4.52 ERA). The hard-throwing, 21-year-old May is 6-foot-6 with a huge head of curly red hair, earning him the nickname “Gingergaard” in tribute to the Mets’ similarly coiffed Noah Syndergaard.
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