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Bats can't aid Kershaw as road win streak ends at 15

Ace allows two runs in six innings, but lack of clutch hitting sinks LA

ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers' historic road winning streak has come to an end.

The Cardinals snapped Los Angeles' franchise-record 15-game winning streak away from Dodger Stadium with a 5-1 victory at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night.

"It just means we need to start a new one tomorrow," said Clayton Kershaw. "It was a pretty cool thing, for sure. Definitely not something to take lightly with what we accomplished there. It was going to end at some point, unfortunately it had to happen tonight. But the good thing about baseball is we come back tomorrow."

The streak tied for the fourth-longest in Major League history, falling two games short of the record 17-game streak shared by the 1984 Detroit Tigers and '16 New York Giants.

"I think the biggest thing that we try to focus on is that that streak didn't really mean anything past tonight's game," manager Don Mattingly said. "You try to win every day, and the games that you've already won are pretty much gone and so you can't win them again."

A shift in the Dodgers' rotation spoiled a duel between National League Cy Young candidates Kershaw and Adam Wainwright scheduled for Monday, pitting Zack Greinke against Wainwright and bumping Kershaw to Tuesday's contest opposite Joe Kelly.

But Kershaw wasn't overlooking the Cardinals' long-reliever-turned-starter.

"I'm pitching against the Cardinals one way or another," Kershaw said Monday. "Joe Kelly is no easy task."

And Kelly barely got the best of Kershaw, who leads all big league pitchers with a 1.91 ERA. Both starters posted similar stat lines -- six hits, two walks -- with a second earned run against the Dodgers' ace being the decisive difference as Kershaw once again fell victim to poor run support. Carlos Beltran and Matt Adams punctuated the Dodgers' streak-breaking loss in the eighth by belting a pair of homers for three insurance runs.

"Kelly pitched well. Made pitches when he had to, got a lot of double play balls," Kershaw said. "You know, it's just one of those nights. They were doing what they've been doing all year. Got some big hits with runners in scoring position. I left some pitches up and they made me pay."

Kershaw entered the game averaging 3.08 runs of support. In six of the lefty's seven losses, the Dodgers have scored two or fewer runs and are 13-11 in his starts.

"It'd make it a lot easier on ourselves if we did win those games," Andre Ethier said. "We should when he's pitching. It's not like he gave it away. We were right there. It's one where it's pretty frustrating; it's one where we better correct it."

When asked if he had any theories as to why his team struggles to score with one of the best pitchers in baseball on the mound, Mattingly was stumped.

"I wish I had them," he said. "It seems like over the years, we've seen a lot of guys in the [Kershaw] category that it doesn't seem like they get runs. I don't know what it is."

With Kelly and Kershaw each tossing four scoreless innings, Beltran knocked the second hit of the night against Kershaw, a leadoff single, paving the way for Allen Craig to get the Cards' offense rolling with no outs in the fourth. Craig worked a 10-pitch at-bat before finally whacking a line drive right back at Kershaw, who, while turning to shield himself, gloved it over his left shoulder then immediately pivoted and fired to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for the frame-ending double play.

The Cardinals would get to Kershaw again in the fifth, but this time, the Redbirds capitalized, manufacturing two runs off three consecutive hits -- two doubles and a single -- that would ultimately be the difference.

"The hits they got, they weren't great pitches," Kershaw said. "I left some sliders up. They hit the ball hard. They did that pretty much all night."

Los Angeles responded by opening the sixth with a double from Carl Crawford. Gonzalez helped Crawford home with an RBI single, ending Kelly's consecutive scoreless inning streak at 20, spanning four starts.

"They're a really good team, obviously. Kershaw is a stud. Everyone knows that," Kelly said. "I'm not going in there thinking I have to do something extra because I'm pitching against Kershaw. I'm just trying to be the same guy I've been, work my tail off and battle against those guys."

Kelly surrendered another base hit to Yasiel Puig before exiting to a loud ovation from the 41,770 at Busch. The Cardinals called on left-handed specialist Randy Choate to face lefty Andre Ethier, although Ethier got the best of the former Dodgers reliever, knocking another single.

With one out and the bases loaded, A.J. Ellis stepped into the box as the Dodgers appeared primed to steal the lead. But Ellis grounded into a double play, squandering the club's best opportunity of the night. The Dodgers hit into four double plays, tying a season high set versus Arizona in June, and stranded seven runners.

"Those are the kind of runs and things you can't really give away," Mattingly said. "I know we're not trying to give them away, but those are the things you can't do if you're going to beat good clubs."

The Cardinals piled on three runs with two homers against righty Brandon League in the eighth and used five different relievers to hold the Dodgers to just two hits and a walk over the final three frames.

Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for
Read More: Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez