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Kershaw strikes out 13, wins 7th straight by beating Giants

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Clayton Kershaw struck out 13 in eight innings, Justin Turner hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the ninth and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 3-2 on Friday night.

Kershaw (9-1) outdueled Johnny Cueto to improve to 7-0 over his last eight starts, and with 82 strikeouts to just three walks during that stretch since an April 26 loss to Miami. He is 3-0 in six road starts.

Turner hit a 2-1 pitch from Santiago Casilla (1-2) to left field to start the ninth and the Dodgers shaved a game off the Giants’ NL West lead to pull within three – though both clubs know this race surely will be decided down the stretch.

The Dodgers have won the last five games against the Giants when Kershaw pitches, and the lefty is 18-7 in 33 starts facing rival San Francisco.

Kenley Jansen allowed Brandon Belt‘s two-out double in the ninth followed by a walk to pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco before striking out Brandon Crawford on a 3-2 pitch for his 17th save.

The Dodgers improved to 12-1 in Kershaw’s outings, while the Giants dropped to 11-2 when Cueto takes the mound. He had beaten Los Angeles in consecutive April starts.

Cueto, who was trying to become the majors’ third 10-game winner of the night after Washington’s Stephen Strasburg and Chris Sale of the White Sox, had his home scoreless streak of 29 1/3 innings snapped in the first when he fell behind 2-0.

The right-hander struck out eight in eight innings, allowing two runs on three hits with no walks.

The Dodgers went ahead on a balk that Cueto and manager Bruce Bochy debated with plate umpire D.J. Reyburn, then added on with Adrian Gonzalez‘s RBI single.

Matt Duffy homered in the bottom of the first, sending an 0-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers for just the fifth long ball given up by Los Angeles’ ace, and Buster Posey hit a tying double in the sixth.

Posey was back in the lineup to catch him after missing three straight games with an irritated nerve in his right thumb, but with two off days, he had five days of rest. He received an injection in the area Sunday.

The Dodgers challenged a ball call against Chase Utley in the fifth that actually hit Utley, and it was overturned after about a minute. Cueto then retired the final 10 hitters he faced in order.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RF Yasiel Puig, on the disabled list since June 3 with a strained left hamstring, will join Class A Rancho Cucamonga at home Monday with the hope he will be activated June 20 against the Nationals. Puig has been working in the batting cage on “shortening his stroke,” manager Dave Roberts said. When Puig is ready, Roberts will still try to get Trayce Thompson regular playing time, but Puig’s defense and strong arm are too valuable to keep him out of the lineup. … RHP Brandon McCarthy is slated to make his first rehab start and go two innings Saturday at Rancho Cucamonga as he works back from Tommy John surgery.

Giants: INF Kelby Tomlinson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb that happened on a dive Wednesday against Boston but didn’t initially become problematic. He will need a splint for about two weeks. … RF Hunter Pence underwent surgery Thursday on his torn right hamstring in Dallas and all went smoothly and as planned. He was expected back in the Bay Area on Friday night and at the ballpark Saturday. … RHP Sergio Romo (elbow strain), who was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for the callup of INF Ramiro Pena from Triple-A Sacramento, could throw off the mound Saturday. … LF Angel Pagan (left hamstring strain) will begin a three-game rehab assignment with Sacramento beginning Saturday night in El Paso, Texas.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Scott Kazmir (5-3, 4.46 ERA) is 2-0 with 24 strikeouts and four walks in 17 innings over his last three starts.

Giants: Jeff Samardzija (7-4, 3.33) looks to bounce back from a loss at St. Louis in which he surrendered season highs of six runs and nine hits. He is 1-3 in five career outings – three starts – vs. L.A.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.