Loss to Giants doesn't follow tradition

LOS ANGELES -- Well, that sure didn't follow tradition.

Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw had just been staked to a two-run lead when he took the mound to start the seventh inning Friday night against the visiting San Francisco Giants, a team he had dominated in his young career.

Such a margin would normally be enough for the league's ERA leader to put a stamp on a victory -- or at least hand the lead over to the bullpen -- but instead Kershaw surrendered four straight base hits to the Giants, adding up to three runs in the eventual 4-2 victory by San Francisco at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers fell to 6-6 this month, as many losses as they experienced through all of August and one more than July.

Time for a closed door meeting? Hardly.

The Dodgers played without starting shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who was diagnosed with an irritated nerve in his back and won't return until next week, started the game without first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was given the night off until pinch hitting in the seventh inning, and saw center fielder Andre Ethier limp off the field after doubling with two out in the eighth.

That left Nick Punto starting at shortstop, Michael Young at first base and Juan Uribe batting cleanup for the first time in more than three years.

Uribe did his job, launching a two-run homer in the sixth inning that gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead, and the 25th sellout crowd of the year for the Dodgers must have been feeling optimistic when Kershaw came out in the seventh.

But he was greeted by a leadoff base hit by Hunter Pence, followed by another single by Pablo Sandoval. Joaquin Arias then lined a 1-2 pitch into left center and advanced to second on an error by left fielder Scott Van Slyke, scoring Pence and putting runners on second and third. Brett Pill, a former Cal State Fullerton standout, then hit a soft liner over the head of Young, scoring both runners for a 3-2 lead.

The third run in the inning was unearned, preventing Kershaw from giving up more than two earned runs for just the second time in 21 career starts against the Giants.

After Gonzalez pinch hit for Young and struck out with runners on first and third to end the seventh inning, Pence added a solo homer in the eighth to extend the lead to 4-2.

Gonzalez had one more chance, stepping into the box as the winning run with two outs in the ninth, but he hit a hard grounder off the foot of closer Sergio Romo, which caromed to Arias at third, who threw out Gonzalez to end the game.

The good news: The Dodgers saw their magic number to clinch the National League West fall to four after the Arizona Diamondbacks lost to the Colorado Rockies.