It was a dour day for Clayton Kershaw.
Aaron Nola outpitched the three-time Cy Young Award winner and the Philadelphia Phillies held on to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-1, on Thursday evening at Chavez Ravine.
The two teams took turns winning in the four-game series as the Dodgers streak of consecutive series victories ends at three. Despite the loss, Los Angeles has still not dropped a series since May 17 against the Miami Marlins.
Kershaw was reinstated from the disabled list before the game, after the seven-time All-Star missed the last 30 days with left bicep tendinitis.
Kershaw did not look as sharp as he normally does and later after the game it was announced that he was dealing with back discomfort throughout the evening.
"It's beyond frustrating," said Kershaw. "I thought I was out of the woods and feeling healthy, feeling good. Then to have that crop up duing the game."
His fastball velocity peaked at 89MPH, and he did not throw a single fastball in the fifth inning, his final inning.
The Phillies scored the first run of the game on an interesting play at the plate in the top of the second inning.
With Maikel Franco on second base, Jorge Alfaro hit a single to centerfield that sent Franco home. Cody Bellinger made a brilliant throw to the plate that appeared to have Franco dead-to-rights, but Dodgers' catcher Yasmani Grandal dropped the ball.
"A couple guys asked me right away 'Did you touch home plate?' I was like 'No.' But all that matters is we got the run and we won the game," Franco said. "When something happens, they call the video guy right away so I was a little bit surprised. I sat down and I was like 'They’re not showing that play?' and when that happened I was like, 'We got that run.' Crazy."
Franco was ruled safe, but moments later, the play at the plate caused palpebral twitches for the 40,986 fans in attendance after the replay on the videoboard in right field revealed that Franco never touched home plate.
"I asked him [the home plate umpire] afterwards because I obviously didn't know if he touched or not," said Grandal of the play. "He said 'yeah,' nobody screamed at me or anything [to challenge] so there was no reason to go tag him."
However, Dodgers' manager never appealed to home plate umpire Will Little and the play was never challenged or reviewed before an upset Kershaw threw another pitch.
"I saw a safe call and I assumed he had touched home plate," admitted Roberts of the gaffe that may have cost his team the game. "We just didn't get it. You can appeal it. Ultimately, if we would have known, we would have appealed it, yes."
The decision would prove to be costly for the Boys in Blue as the game would eventually be decided by one run.
"Unbeknownst to us he didn't touch home plate," said Roberts. "You're frustrated. You just gave them a run essentially. We just didn't see it. It cost Clayton a run, and it cost us a run. If you look at it, Clayton went five innings and really didn't give up a run."
Kershaw did not factor in the decision, allowing just one run on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts in five innings. He lowered his ERA to 2.76 on the season.
"It definitely did not look pretty," Kershaw said of his start. "No one is going to feel sorry for me. I'm frustrated and disappointed."
Despite the no-decision, Kershaw still has a losing record against Philadelphia in his career, going 3-5 with an ERA of 3.07 in 13 career starts.
The Phillies are just one of three teams in all of Major League Baseball that Kershaw has a losing record against (Pirates and Rangers).
Philadelphia starting pitcher, and future perennial ace, Aaron Nola, had a no-hitter through four innings before Yasiel Puig began the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff double down the left field line.
Puig would help the Dodgers draw level with the Phillies after an RBI single by Enrique Hernandez two batters later.
Hernández has swung the bat well at home this season, batting .292 with 11 runs, two doubles, one triple, five home runs and 11 RBI in 28 games at Dodger Stadium.
Alfaro would ultimately be responsible for both Phillies runs as he knocked in the game-winning run with an RBI double in the top of the seventh inning.
Alfaro finished the game 2-for-3 and recorded a hit in each game this series, going 7-for-15 with three runs, five doubles and three RBI.
Nola (7-2), was dominant against the Dodgers in the finale of the series. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed just one run on two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in seven strong innings.
"I think there’s a lot of pride from Noles," said Phillies' manager Gabe Kapler. "I think he understands that he put our team on his back against the best pitcher over the last six, seven years in Clayton Kershaw, and went toe to toe with him and outlasted him. Noles was just sensational."
Among Nola's 12 starts this season, nine have been quality starts, which is the second most in the NL trailing just Max Scherzer (10). He also joined teammate Jake Arrieta as the second Phillies starter to take a no-hitter into the fifth inning in the series.
Rookie reliever Seranthony Dominguez collected his second save of the season after striking out two batters in 2.0 perfect innings of relief.
The Dodgers finished the month of May with a record of 14-14, and have the best run differential in the National League West at +23. Nonetheless, they still find themselves four games below .500 and fourth place in the division.
The Dodgers will fly to Denver immediately after the game and embark upon a three-game series with the rival Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. Rookie Dennis Santana is expected to start and make his Major League Debut opposite LHP Tyler Anderson. First pitch is scheduled for 5:40PM PST.
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