The Dodgers' ace got off to a rough start before settling in, but it wouldn't have mattered even if he had been masterful, because the offense finally cooled off in a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
It was just the Dodgers' fourth loss in their past 20 games, but it was costly nonetheless with two games left until the All-Star break. They dropped a game to the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks, slipping to 2 1/2 out in the National League West.
For the second night in a row, Yasiel Puig had to leave the game because of a nagging hip injury he picked up in a collision with an outfield wall July 3. Puig exited the game -- after jogging slowly to first base on a couple of groundouts -- in the fourth inning. The Dodgers called the move precautionary.
Kershaw (8-6) was hit surprisingly hard early, with the first two Rockies picking up hits and Colorado scoring two runs in the first inning. He looked like himself after that, piling up eight of his 10 strikeouts between the second and fifth innings.
Run support was his primary deficiency during a four-start losing streak from June 5 to June 21. But the Dodgers scored 12 runs combined while he was in the game in his previous two starts, and, predictably, he made them stand up.
His next outing figures to come in Tuesday's All-Star Game in New York.
The Dodgers couldn't gain any headway on Colorado starter Juan Nicasio and his lively fastball. Their opportunities were scant, and the few times they moved a runner into scoring position, he stayed put. The biggest chance came after Hanley Ramirez's one-out double in the fourth. Andre Ethier hit a deep fly ball to left, and A.J. Ellis popped up.