Before Tuesday night's game, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said that his ace left-handed pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, had "hit the wall" in his last two starts.
Kershaw was pummeled for six earned runs in each of the two starts, both on the road, even though Kershaw still held a 6-3 season record as he faced the Cincinnati Reds.
As Kershaw, 23, returned to Dodger Stadium for his 100th big league appearance, it was Cincinnati that ran into a wall for seven innings, as Kershaw held the Reds to one run.
But Reds starter Johnny Cueto matched him, giving up a run in seven innings, and Cincinnati scored twice against relievers to win, 3-2.
Kershaw threw 104 pitches and said he could have pitched deeper into the game, but "at the same time I'm not going to question [Mattingly's] judgment. He trusts the bullpen just like I do."
Joey Votto hit a run-scoring single against Scott Elbert in the eighth inning and Drew Stubbs did the same against Mike MacDougal in the ninth inning.
The Dodgers scored once more in the ninth inning when James Loney singled home Matt Kemp, but they came up a run short.
The Reds' win came despite the latest effort by another 23-year-old Dodger, Dee Gordon, who is fast becoming the most electrifying player on the club.
The slender, speedy shortstop drew some of the game's loudest roars in front of an announced crowd of 39,233, both at the plate and in the field, and his highlights included:
Singled to lead off the Dodgers' first inning, moved to second base on Jamey Carroll's walk and scored when second baseman Brandon Phillips threw wildly to first base in a double-play attempt. That gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
With Reds on first and second base, Scott Rolen hit a double to the left-field corner that drove in Drew Stubbs to tie the score, 1-1. Jay Bruce also tried to score, but left fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. threw to Gordon and Gordon relayed a strike to catcher Rod Barajas, who blocked the plate while tagging out a sliding Bruce.
Gordon bunted in the sixth inning and, when Cueto threw wildly to first base, advanced to second base. One out later, Gordon stole third base and the crowd erupted. But Gordon was stranded there when Andre Ethier struck out.
The Dodgers managed only seven hits and only Gordon had more than one.
"I'm just trying to get on base, get in scoring position, trying to do any little thing I can to help us get even closer to a win," Gordon said.
Miguel Cairo sparked the Dodgers' downfall in the eighth inning with a pinch-hit single against Blake Hawksworth (1-2) and took second base on Stubbs' sacrifice bunt and third base on Phillips' single.
Mattingly replaced Hawksworth with the left-hander Elbert, who gave up the hit to Votto.