PHOENIX -- Same story, five days later. Clayton Kershaw was good Tuesday night, but not good enough.He and the Dodgers lost to the D-backs, 6-1, with left-handed hitters Daniel Descalso and David Peralta homering off the Dodgers' ace. On Opening Day, Kershaw and the Dodgers lost to the Giants, 1-0,
PHOENIX -- Same story, five days later. Clayton Kershaw was good Tuesday night, but not good enough.
He and the Dodgers lost to the D-backs, 6-1, with left-handed hitters Daniel Descalso and David Peralta homering off the Dodgers' ace. On Opening Day, Kershaw and the Dodgers lost to the Giants, 1-0, on a home run by left-handed hitter Joe Panik.
Kershaw's velocity was up a few healthy ticks on Tuesday, and the Dodgers actually got him a run this time, but there's not much margin for error if a Justin Turner-less offense provides one-half run of support every time Kershaw takes the mound.
Maybe Kershaw thought he should have hit a few home runs, because he somehow took the blame.
"You're not supposed to give up runs as a pitcher," he said. "This one is on me tonight."
Kershaw went on to criticize himself for pitch inefficiency that required his removal after six innings, one night after Hyun-Jin Ryu's 3 2/3-inning start, and Kenley Jansen's blown save, led to a 15-inning, bullpen-burning loss.
Of his 97 pitches, 23 came in the first inning, when he didn't get a curveball strike-three call on Paul Goldschmidt from plate umpire Gerry Davis or a check-swing appeal call from first-base ump Mark Carlson. Goldschmidt worked a walk.
"That first inning, throwing that many pitches really set me up to only go six tonight," Kershaw said. "After last night, six is not going to cut it. Need to get through seven, get through eight. So, just a tough position to put your bullpen in the late innings. I've got to minimize pitches early there, especially after a night like last night."
Descalso hit a fastball that wasn't outside enough. Peralta a slider.
"I thought, offensively, we had a real nice approach against Kershaw, especially with our left-handed hitters," said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo. "You don't see left-handed hitters have a lot of success against Kershaw, but we had two really well-hit balls that gave us the lead. Then some real quality at-bats in the seventh inning, patient at-bats, walks, led to some runs."
That left Kershaw 0-2 for the first time since 2009, losing the first two starts of the season for the first time in his career. Including Game 1 of the 2017 National League Division Series, the D-backs have homered six times in their last two games vs. Kershaw.
"I kind of went through this last year against lefties early and thought I might have figured something out against lefties towards the end," he said. "Right now, just a little bit inconsistent. It's in there, just not every time."
Zack Godley extended Arizona's streak of regular-season wins over the Dodgers to eight. The game turned into a rout when wild relievers Scott Alexander and Pedro Baez walked in three runs in a disastrous seventh inning, then Zach Neal was taken deep by John Ryan Murphy in the eighth in his Dodgers debut.
"The misses weren't terrible," manager Dave Roberts said of his relievers' walks, "but at some point, you've got to go after those guys and make them put the ball in play."
Alexander, acquired in an offseason trade, followed Kershaw by allowing a pair of singles, then walked pitcher De La Rosa, who was trying to bunt. One out later, he walked Ketel Marte for a run, Baez came on, and walked Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock back to back for two more runs and the game was suddenly getting out of hand.
The Dodgers haven't mounted a successful comeback in the first six games, after compiling 47 come-from-behind wins of their 104 total last season. At 2-4, the Dodgers are off to their worst start since going 2-4 to open 2010. They went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, and the team batting average is .224, the offense limited to four hits or fewer in half their games.
"We have enough good players to put up runs and have good at-bats without J.T.," said Roberts. "But when you lose a player of his caliber, it certainly makes an impact on your lineup. We're getting into hitter's counts, but finishing the at-bats, as a group, that's what we're lacking right now."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bullpen loses control: With the Dodgers trailing, 2-1, in the bottom of the seventh, Alexander came on and, after allowing a pair of singles, walked relief pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, who was pinch-hitting and trying to bunt. It was the first of four walks in a span of five batters issued by Alexander and Baez.
"As we're learning with Scotty, the sinker has a lot of depth, and it's just about just kind of corralling it," said Roberts. "This misses aren't really bad misfires, just a tick below the strike zone. It got away from him, and Petey came in and the misses weren't terrible, but we couldn't get them out."
Can't get a clutch hit: The Dodgers' offense could have taken Kershaw off the hook for the loss in the sixth inning after Yasiel Puig's one-out double, but Cody Bellinger grounded out and Matt Kemp struck out.
"I made a few mistakes. Hopefully they stay in the ballpark. Today, they didn't." -- Kershaw
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The D-backs have won four consecutive regular-season series against the Dodgers for the first time since Sept. 11, 2012-June 12, 2013.
Alex Wood, who fired a one-hitter for eight scoreless innings against the Giants in his 2018 debut, starts for the Dodgers in Wednesday's 12:40 p.m. PT series finale vs. the D-backs. He is 5-3 with a 3.06 ERA in eight career starts against Arizona. Yasmani Grandal, who caught all 15 innings Monday night and reached base five times, will probably return behind the plate after getting the first six innings off Tuesday night.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.