Clayton Kershaw pitched eight strong innings and Hanley Ramirez belted a two-run homer in the sixth inning to carry the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
In a game dominated by defense and great pitching, the Dodgers were able to escape with their seventh win in eight contests to remain a half-game ahead of second-place Arizona in the NL West.
Kershaw (10-6) held the Reds to six hits and had eight strikeouts and didn't walk a batter. The left-hander, who threw 118 pitches, has won five of his last six decisions.
"Tonight was typical Clayton. He works every hitter and he works every inning," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Clayton never gives up."
Homer Bailey (5-10) scattered seven hits over seven innings, but has lost four consecutive starts since tossing a no-hitter July 2 against the Giants.
The Reds had won four of their previous five games, but went 1-for-9 with men in scoring position Friday night.
Adrian Gonzalez singled to start the sixth and then Ramirez homered to left field on an 0-1 pitch.
"Other than that one pitch, I felt good," Bailey said. "It was a good pitch, a curveball down and he went down and got it. Hanley's hot right now."
Brandon Phillips doubled and then scored on a Jay Bruce line base hit to center in the seventh. Bruce went to second on a wild pitch, but Kershaw retired the ensuing two batters.
Pinch-hitter Derrick Robinson doubled in the eighth, but Kershaw again worked out of trouble by getting Shin-Soo Choo to ground out back to the mound, and Chris Heisey to pop out.
"I felt good tonight. They've got a good lineup over there," Kershaw said. "I just tried to keep them off base and Hanley is one of the most talented guys I've seen and we're just riding his bat right now."
Kenley Jansen retired the side in order in the ninth for his 13th save.
The second contest of this four-game series saw its share of some sparkling defensive plays. One came in the fourth inning. Juan Uribe flied out to right field. Ramirez tried to score, but Bruce's throw home was on target. Ramirez actually ran past the base and Corky Miller made the tag before Ramirez could come back and tag the plate.
Bailey fell to 2-8 on the road ... The Dodgers have not lost a series since dropping two of three to Pittsburgh at PNC Park June 14-16 and have won seven of their last 10 sets (7-0-3) ... Carl Crawford had three of LA's seven hits ... Ramirez has reached base in 34 consecutive games since June 19 ... Kershaw leads the majors with a 1.96 ERA. He is trying to become the first major leaguer to lead the big leagues in ERA in three consecutive seasons since Atlanta's Greg Maddux from 1993-95.