LOS ANGELES -- With Clayton Kershaw on the mound against White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, one of the American League's best young pitchers, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he anticipated a classic one-run, low-scoring affair.
He got a one-run game, but what he watched Friday night was far from what he expected in the Dodgers' 7-6 victory that featured 19 combined hits, a tough outing from Kershaw and a five-run rally in the sixth as the Los Angeles overcame an early four-run deficit and won on a run-scoring wild pitch in the eighth.
"You look at it on paper and I was excited about it, too," Mattingly said about the pitching matchup. "You go into it thinking it's going to be one of those duels where it's a one-run game. You didn't think it'd be 7-6."
It ended that way because Kershaw was hit hard early by the powerful White Sox lineup once his offspeed pitches weren't working as they have been in the past. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner gave up a two-strike, first-inning home run to Adam Dunn and things didn't get much better from there.
He allowed runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings before exiting in the sixth after giving up eight hits, five runs (four earned) and a pair of home runs.
"I just made a lot of mistakes tonight," Kershaw said. "I got everybody 0-2 and couldn't put anybody away. There was just no execution."
Kershaw is 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA in three home starts since throwing a shutout against St. Louis on May 19 at Dodger Stadium. He had been dealing with plantar fasciitis for the last couple of weeks, but he said he feels no pain when he pitches and that he is fine.
As for why his recent numbers aren't what they were like earlier this year or last season, the lefty didn't have an answer.
"This game is not easy. That's the great thing about it," Kershaw said. "Just because you had a couple of good starts doesn't mean you're going to keep having them. You've just got to keep battling and competing."
Luckily for Kershaw, he avoided the loss Friday night because that's exactly what the offense continued to do late in the game.
After an Alex Rios home run, his second of the game, tied things up at 6 in the top of the eighth, the Dodgers took the lead right back in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs, runners on the corners and pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu at the plate, White Sox reliever Matt Thornton threw a wild pitch that scored James Loney from third.
"We walk out of here and these guys are excited about being in that locker room," Mattingly said. "We were able to come from behind and get a win, a tough one."
That is largely thanks to a big rally in the sixth inning.
Down, 5-1, Jerry Hairston led things off with his third walk and A.J. Ellis followed with a single to put two on. Juan Uribe then delivered an RBI double down the left-field line that skipped into foul territory and then back in play after Orlando Hudson failed to grab it on a bounce at third base.
After a Tony Gwynn strikeout, Ivan De Jesus came in to pinch-hit for Kershaw and smacked an RBI single to right. Dee Gordon popped out on a bunt attempt with runners on the corners and second baseman Gordon Beckham came up with a bare-handed grab on a ball Paul Konerko couldn't bring down at first.
But Elian Herrera kept the inning alive with a two-strike double to right that scored Uribe and De Jesus off reliever Jesse Crain. The Dodgers took the lead on a Juan Rivera single that scored Herrera.
"The five-run inning was huge for us," Mattingly said. "That was a big win. We seemed a little bit flat and a little bit down."
Prior to the inning, Sale was dealing and the Dodgers couldn't find an answer. The White Sox starter came into the game 5-0 with a 0.98 ERA in his last five starts, and he appeared in line for another victory thanks to some early offensive backing.
But the sixth-inning rally chased him out of the game and ended his night early.
"It wasn't as sharp as he's been," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Even though he still had good stuff and got through certain stretches, it wasn't his best."
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.