Kershaw fans 11, but Dodgers fall to Phils
Blake breaks up no-hitter with two-out single in sixth inning
LOS ANGELES -- First innings have been known to give Clayton Kershaw trouble, not home runs. Both got to him on Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, and the Dodgers still had just their bats to blame.
Some baserunning mistakes and Roy Oswalt, too.
Deemed too pricey for the Dodgers when the Astros put him on the trading block in July, Oswalt carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and the Dodgers dropped the rubber game to the Phillies, 5-1. It was Los Angeles' second straight loss to the team it's chasing in the National League Wild Card race, and it pushed the Dodgers to 7 1/2 games out of a playoff spot with 28 games remaining.
"Obviously, the more games you lose, the more you games you can't afford to lose," manager Joe Torre said. "I still believe this ballclub has a six or seven-game winning streak. We just have to do it now, as opposed to later when it doesn't matter."
Kershaw entered the contest allowing the ninth fewest home runs in the National League at .58 per nine innings. In 78 career starts, he allowed multiple home runs in a game just four times, and only once since April of 2009.
His previous start at Colorado on Aug. 27 marked the only time that Kershaw had thrown a perfect first inning this season. In all of his other 27 starts, someone reached base, even if it was on a strikeout.
Two pitches into the game, Jimmy Rollins knocked one out to left, and Kershaw seemed destined for murkier waters when Chasey Utley followed with a double. But he struck out Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard, then got out of the inning with a Jayson Werth dribbler back to the mound.
"You just got to bear down," Kershaw said. "One run's easy to come back from, you really just to got to tell yourself that and not give up any more than that. It's tough to come back 2-0 against a guy like Oswalt."
The next inning began the same way. Three pitches in, Shane Victorino reached the bleachers again for a 2-0 lead, and Kershaw this time struck out the side.
"First pitch to Rollins, I really was just trying to throw a strike, tip your hat to him I guess," Kershaw said. "I obviously didn't expect him to turn and burn like that. The one to Victorino, I'd like to have back. It was an 0-2 pitch up."
Kershaw finished with 11 strikeouts, one shy of his season high of 12, for the second time in three starts. He went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks.
Oswalt was in form, but six Dodgers had reached base -- five by walk, one by error -- by the time they got their first hit, on Casey Blake's two-out liner to right in the sixth. James Loney had drawn his third walk in as many plate appearances in front of Blake, but Oswalt escaped the jam on a pop up from Ronnie Belliard.
"I had enough movement on my ball that they couldn't look in one place," Oswalt said. "It started outside and ran back in on a lot of them. I got a lot of jam shots to keep them off balance."
Oswalt issued consecutive two-out walks in the fourth, but worked around it with his third strikeout of the frame.
"I thought we worked Oswalt very well, even though he hadn't given up a hit," Torre said. "We couldn't cash in on anything."
The Phillies used three relievers after Oswalt, and still the Dodgers finished with three hits.
Los Angeles' lone run came on a could-have-been double in the eighth. Loney, who drove in five of the eight runs the Dodgers scored in the series, hit a liner off the wall against Ryan Madson. Jamey Carroll scored from second to make it 3-1, and Matt Kemp tried to go from first to third, until he realized he hadn't touched second base.
It was the second day in a row Kemp had missed second -- he did it Tuesday on a Loney home run -- and on Wednesday it forced him and Loney to settle for one base.
Madson's next pitch got Blake on an inning-ending double play, a double play that would not have been in order had Loney completed the two-bagger.
"I just missed the bag," said Kemp, who's taken criticism for his focus on the field this season.
"It's something that I'm sure he feels badly about, because we had a little something going," Torre said. "I think his chances [of having a double] are pretty good."
Loney appeared to stop at first only because of Kemp's halt, but after the game said otherwise.
"I think it would have been close," he said. "Right when I got to first, it seemed like [Werth] already had the ball. I don't think I would have risked it right there."
The game slipped away from the Dodgers' bullpen in the ninth. Kenley Jansen allowed one run in the eighth, and Ronald Belisario and Hong-Chih Kuo surrendered a run apiece in the final inning.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.