On a night when he came agonizingly close to recording his 1,000th career strikeout but didn't, Los Angeles Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw came back down to earth.
After 19 scoreless innings this season, including two scoreless starts, Kershaw on Friday night finally gave up a run – a precious commodity as the Arizona Diamondbacks would prove.
And the way the Dodgers have been hitting – or not hitting in the clutch, to be more accurate – you knew this could mean trouble for a team trying to rebound from the brawl in San Diego and the bummer news that Zack Greinke is lost until around the All-Star break.
As it turned out, the Diamondbacks would get more than that run, winning 3-0 while shutting out the Dodgers who have been pitiful with runners in scoring position.
Kershaw surrendered that run in the fourth inning of his third start of the season and then saw it all fall apart in the bottom of the eighth inning when he left with the bases loaded.
Shawn Tolleson, the young reliever just called up to take Zack Greinke’s roster spot, made his surprising debut – and it was unimpressive, walking in two runs and effectively turning out the lights on the Dodgers.
The Dodgers were their own worst enemies, leaving 10 runners on base and getting only six hits – Kershaw getting one of them himself.
They effectively made Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin look like Sandy Koufax as he allowed only three hits over six innings while walking three and striking out four.
Relievers Brad Ziegler, David Hernandez and J.J. Putz completed the shutout.
The Dodgers appeared close to evening the one-run game off Hernandez in the top of the eighth when Matt Kemp singled and got to third on two wild pitches.
But with the tying run only 90 feet away and only one out, Hernandez struck out Carl Crawford who didn’t start the game but came in to pinch-hit and then getting Andre Ethier to ground out.
In the ninth inning, the Dodgers threatened with one out as Nick Punto singled and Skip Schumaker walked.
But Jerry Hairston Jr. then killed the threat by grounding into a game-ending double play.
For Kershaw, this was a night of being disappointingly close. He struckout nine Diamondbacks and reached 999 strikeouts in his career.
But Kershaw found himself losing his fourth straight decision to the Diamondbacks dating back to last year.
In the fourth inning, Kershaw gave up a single to Gerardo Parra and then got a bad break on a hit-and-run play when Martin Prado’s line drive went right through the shortstop position which Justin Sellers had left to cover second base.
Parra took third base on the hit-and-run and then scored when Paul Goldschmidt grounded into a double play.
It was a bit of sweet revenge for Parra.
On Sept 13, 2011, Parra homered against the Dodgers, and Kershaw had called him out from the dugout for admiring the dinger for too long at the plate.
The next night Kershaw hit Parra and was immediately ejected.
On Friday night, maybe it was fitting that the Dodgers went from bad blood in San Diego to bad blood in Arizona.