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MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Lightweight Dodgers lineup too heavy a burden for Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is solid, allowing two earned runs and five hits in seven innings, but with half the regular lineup on the DL, hitters can't get anything going in 3-1 loss to Houston.

May 25, 2012|By Baxter Holmes

Friday marked four years to the day that a sandy-haired Texan debuted at Dodger Stadium. It was a ballyhooed occasion for a ballyhooed pitcher, and he shined with a brilliant performance that his team capped with a close win.

That victory prefigured many more for the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw listed as their scheduled starter.

But, 125 starts and a National League Cy Young Award later, the left-handed ace left the mound Friday night after a performance short of his reputation, which ultimately led to his team leaving the field with a loss, 3-1, to Houston.

"I didn't have as great of command as I would've liked, but overall I thought pitched OK," Kershaw said after his record fell to 4-2 and his earned-run average rose slightly, to 1.97. "Just a couple mistakes here and there, but in a game like that, it'll cost you."

"Clayton got behind in the count a little bit tonight," said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly, who added that the Dodgers didn't give him much help.

They had a chance in the eighth, when Jerry Hairston Jr., who had been activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, came up with the bases loaded and one out.

Hairston walked to bring in a run, but Astros reliever Fernando Abad struck out Ivan De Jesus, and Fernando Rodriguez got A.J. Ellis to fly out, ending the threat.

Kershaw gave up five hits and three runs (one unearned) in seven innings against a team that won the first of a three-game visit to Dodger Stadium, its last as part of the National League.

The Astros move to the American League next season, meaning they won't see as much of Kershaw, but they at least got a parting shot in during one of their final matchups.

Houston starter Lucas Harrell (4-3) gave up one run and five hits in 71/3 innings. "He pounded the strike zone," Mattingly said. "He kind of attacked us all night."

No Dodgers team in franchise history had started 20-4 at home, and the 2012 edition, which at 30-15 still has the best overall record in either league, fell one win short of that.

Houston, which improved to 6-13 on the road and 22-23 overall, scored in the first inning to snap Kershaw's career-high 22-inning scoreless streak.

Two innings later, Houston left fielder J.D. Martinez smacked a Kershaw fastball over the left-field wall with one runner aboard.

Because the Dodgers have eight players on the disabled list, including Matt Kemp (hamstring) and fellow regulars Juan Rivera (hamstring), Juan Uribe (wrist) and Mark Ellis (leg), their offense is lacking. It certainly was Friday, when they managed only seven hits and left 10 on base.

For the Dodgers, the loss marked the start of a seven-game homestand and a 20-games-in-20-days stretch.

They began that marathon on the wrong foot.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/BaxterHolmes

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