LOS ANGELES -- They won more games than any team this season, but the Dodgers couldn't win the one they wanted to win the most -- the first World Series Game 7 in Dodger Stadium history.
A 5-1 loss to the Astros in the winner-take-all finale of one of the best World Series in history extended the Dodgers' title drought to 30 years.
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This one started much as Game 3 in Houston, with right-hander Yu Darvish struggling early. By the time manager Dave Roberts brought Clayton Kershaw out of the bullpen to start the third inning, Los Angeles already was in a 5-0 hole from which it could not escape.
"Just unexpected, even today, the velocity, I thought he was right there," Roberts said of Darvish. "I thought he was going to really throw the baseball well. And I think it was 3 1/3, maybe, in this Series, and just very unfortunate. I know he wanted the baseball. I know he was prepared. I just can't explain the results. I really can't."
So after a record-setting regular season, a first-round sweep of the D-backs and a sweet triumph over the defending champion Cubs in a rematch of last year's National League Championship Series, the Dodgers still haven't won a World Series since 1988.
"I just said that there's something to be proud of. As far as it hurts, it's supposed to hurt, but there's nothing to regret when you leave it all out there," Roberts said he told his club after the game. "It was a long season. We stayed together. We fought until the end. We came up a little bit short, but there's nothing for us to hang our heads about. The Astros had a heck of a year. A great team. You've got to tip your hats because they earned it."
With a core of young stars like Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, plus one of the deepest pitching staffs in the game, L.A. intends to be back after establishing an NL West dynasty by taking five consecutive division titles. But that wasn't top of mind after losing a Game 7.
"It's going to take a while -- we're human, man. It breaks your heart," said closer Kenley Jansen, who pitched the seventh inning trailing by four runs. "The Houston Astros, a great team, they put a good fight on us, they deserved it. For us, it stinks. You feel the disappointment. We let the fans down. But we fought. We can't hang our heads. It's been a great season. The city of Los Angeles needs this. We're going to be back here. We let this pain last year against Chicago motivate us. This year the pain is worse and it will motivate us for next year."
The Dodgers have all offseason to come to grips with not capitalizing on their home-field advantage, dropping a wild Game 2, 7-6, in extra innings to even the Series at one game apiece and then losing Game 7 after an emotional Game 6 victory to force the deciding game. Historically, teams that win Game 6 at home to force a Game 7 had been 14-2 in the deciding game. But it was not to be on this night, despite Roberts' confidence before the game: "I just know this is our moment."
Scoreless relief outings by Kershaw (four innings) and Alex Wood (two innings) gave the Dodgers a chance to rally, but they went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and -- aside from a pinch-hit RBI single by Andre Ethier in the sixth -- were unable to cash in on their scoring opportunities.
"I was overaggressive," said Bellinger. "Couldn't make adjustments, didn't make adjustments."
With Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser everywhere he turns, Kershaw remains one of the franchise's greatest pitchers not to win a ring, so it might hurt him most of all.
"I will replay all the things we could have done different," he said. "When you think about how close we were, it's too hard to think about what the Astros are getting to do right now. I just think about the guys in the clubhouse and how proud I am and how special a team this is.
"The Astros are an amazing team and they deserved to win, no doubt, but there's so many things -- one pitch here, one pitch there could change the outcome of the games. It's human nature to go back and think what you could have done differently. At the end of the day, we got beat by a team that probably deserved to win."