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Kershaw fans five over seven stellar frames

PHOENIX -- At times Tuesday, it appeared Clayton Kershaw would single-handedly lift the Dodgers out of their recent struggles.

The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner cruised through the D-backs' lineup, facing little resistance along the way.

The only problem for the left-hander, however, was the Los Angeles offense and defense proved too heavy to carry on his back.

Allowing just an unearned run over his seven innings, Kershaw took a hard-luck loss as the Dodgers fell to the D-backs, 1-0, at Chase Field for their fifth loss in six games.

"They all hurt the same right now," Kershaw said. "It's the card we're dealt right now. It's frustrating, I know everybody is searching for answers. If we could explain it, we would, but we just have to keep grinding. It's all cliche, but we have to keep playing."

Making matters worse was the Giants victory over the Rockies, dropping the Dodgers to six games back in the National League West with 20 games remaining.

Each of Los Angeles' last seven losses have come by four runs or fewer, including four defeats by either one run or in extra innings.

"I don't feel like we've caught a ton of breaks lately, but we haven't caused a ton of breaks for ourselves either," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We haven't caused enough havoc to get over that hump."

The loss also marked Los Angeles' ninth defeat in its last 11 games against the D-backs.

Kershaw, pitching after his scheduled start on Sunday got pushed back because of a sore hip, was working on a shutout before an error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez and a double off the bat of Miguel Montero pushed across the only run of the game in the seventh.

"I blinked first tonight, I threw a pitch I shouldn't have," Kershaw said. "I didn't put it where I wanted to, and Miguel made me pay for it. He did a good job with it. You can't blink first in those games. I did, and that's where it goes. I wanted to get him to chase one, but I left it over the plate."

The D-backs threatened to add to their lead when Montero advance to third on a passed ball with one out, but Matt Kemp, playing in his first game since Friday, saved a run by throwing out Montero, who was trying to tag up on Chris Johnson's flyout to center.

Kershaw exited the game after the inning, throwing 105 pitches, striking out five and surrendering just three hits.

Since giving up eight earned runs on July 24, Kershaw has delivered nine consecutive quality starts. But despite the left-hander consistently shutting down opposing teams, the Dodgers have lost in four of his last five outings, scoring a combined four runs in those games.

"It hurts when he pitches so good and we don't get a win," Mattingly said. "We've had a lot of chances against teams that we haven't done a whole lot with."

The Dodgers seemed poised to grab the lead in the fifth when Luis Cruz launched a deep fly ball to left field with two outs and Andre Ethier on second base. But as the ball came down, D-backs outfielder Jason Kubel leaped and stretched his glove over the fence, coming down with the catch and robbing Cruz of a two-run homer.

"It was a nice play by him," Cruz said. "I knew I hit it OK, I didn't know where it would land."

Back in the Dodgers' dugout, however, most of his teammates thought the ball was gone.

"I actually did think it was out. I dropped into my seat," Mattingly said. "I thought we had it, that was a little bit of a downer there, but we were still in the game."

Besides Cruz's scare, Arizona starter Ian Kennedy held the Dodgers at bay, allowing just four hits over his 7 1/3 innings.

"I thought Ian was really good early," Mattingly said. "He kept that fastball down and his changeup was good."

Kennedy, who also blanked the Dodgers over 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 30, lifted both of his arms in the air while walking back to the dugout when Kubel took away Cruz's long ball.

"You don't expect those plays. He had really good timing and really fooled all of us," Kennedy said. "It definitely brought our spirits up seeing something like that, because I made a bad pitch on that pitch. I completely missed. I was trying to go down and away and it was kind of up, middle. To see a play like that, it was a big break."

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