LOS ANGELES — They’re having a heat wave.
The sizzling Dodgers broke a tie with three runs in the seventh inning Sunday afternoon, beating the San Francisco Giants 7-4 and completing a four-game sweep of their rivals.
It was their first four-game sweep of the Giants since June 1995 but it was their fifth sweep of a four-game series this season (two of the Diamondbacks, one each of the Cubs, Reds and Giants).
The Dodgers now have their longest winning streak of the season (eight). But that’s only part of a summer surge that has seen them win 15 of their past 16, 19 of their past 21 and 24 of their past 29 to build a fat lead in the division — 11 games over the second-place Padres, pending the outcome of their game, and 16 1/2 over a Giants team unable to replicate the magic formula that carried them to the division title last season.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, are on pace to win even more games than last summer’s 106. Their current pace (64-30) translates to a 110-win season.
But Sunday did start out as a Ruf one for Clayton Kershaw.
It took him 11 pitches to strike out Giants first baseman Darin Ruf in the first inning. Then he walked Ruf with two outs in the third.
To that point, Dodgers starting pitchers had yet to give up an earned run since returning from the All-Star break. But Ruf’s walk opened the door for a two-out rally when Yermin Mercedes followed with a double and Thairo Estrada dropped a single (83.4 mph off the bat) into left field to drive in two runs.
The Dodgers had their own two-out rally in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs on four consecutive two-out hits – a double by Jake Lamb, single by Gavin Lux, double by Max Muncy and single by Trayce Thompson.
Twenty of the Dodgers’ 24 runs in the series scored with two outs in the inning.
But Kershaw had to face Ruf one more time. With one out and a runner on second in the fifth inning, Kershaw tried to go down and in with a 1-and-0 slider but caught too much of the plate – and he knew it, dropping to one knee on the mound as Ruf swung and sent it into the Dodgers’ bullpen down the left field line.
The two-run home run tied the score and ended Kershaw’s day. It was just the second time in 13 starts this season that Kershaw has failed to complete five innings. Both have been against the Giants (he went just four innings in his return from a back injury last month).
The game stayed tied until the bottom of the seventh when Freddie Freeman sliced a fly ball to left field. Yermin Mercedes — a DH in left-fielder’s clothing — took an awkward route and couldn’t get there in time. It fell in for a double.
Lamb followed with a more conventional double, bouncing a drive into the seats down the right-field line. Lux lined a single to center field to drive in Lamb and Trayce Thompson bounced an RBI double off the center-field wall — prompting his brother, Klay, to lead the cheers behind the Giants’ dugout.
Rescued from Triple-A a month ago, Lamb and Thompson combined for four hits, three RBI and two runs scored Sunday.