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Dodgers' defense can't back Kershaw in loss

LA ace allows one earned runs, while defense commits three errors
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Despite missing the All-Star Game for the first time since 2010, Clayton Kershaw looked like an All-Star pitcher on Saturday night at Miller Park, but Max Muncy and the Dodgers defense didn't back him up.

The Brewers got to Kershaw for four runs over six innings in the Dodgers' 4-2 loss, but only one run -- Christian Yelich's sixth-inning leadoff homer -- was charged to the Los Angeles ace. Behind its three-time National League Cy Young Award winner, the Dodgers committed three errors and allowed two unearned runs in the decisive sixth inning.

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MILWAUKEE -- Despite missing the All-Star Game for the first time since 2010, Clayton Kershaw looked like an All-Star pitcher on Saturday night at Miller Park, but Max Muncy and the Dodgers defense didn't back him up.

The Brewers got to Kershaw for four runs over six innings in the Dodgers' 4-2 loss, but only one run -- Christian Yelich's sixth-inning leadoff homer -- was charged to the Los Angeles ace. Behind its three-time National League Cy Young Award winner, the Dodgers committed three errors and allowed two unearned runs in the decisive sixth inning.

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"Kershaw threw the ball well," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He had good fastball command. The curveball wasn't as sharp as it normally is, but the slider was good and, for me, he pitched well enough for us to win. The sixth inning just spun out of control, and all night long, we just didn't play a clean game or the type of baseball we're capable of."

A Yasmani Grandal error via catcher's interference during Ryan Braun's at-bat eventually brought around the Brewers' first run in the second inning, but a Muncy miscue in the sixth decided the ballgame.

Kershaw cruised until Yelich led off the sixth with a home run -- his seventh hit in 14 career at-bats against the left-hander.

"I pitched OK," Kershaw said. "I can think of a few pitches I want back -- the first-pitch homer to Yelich. He's swinging the bat really well right now, so you can't really give him one right there."

Video: LAD@MIL: Kershaw fans Aguilar to strike out the side

Another one of those pitches Kershaw said he wanted back was Braun's one-out double two batters later, which extended the Brewers first baseman's impressive record against Kershaw (now 11-for-35 lifetime).

The Dodgers nearly had Braun stranded, though. Manny Pina chopped a two-out grounder at Muncy, who committed the first of his two errors and allowed Braun to score. Broxton then tripled and drove in Pina, the third unearned run of the game charged to Kershaw, to extend the Brewers' lead.

"I thought I took a good angle at it," Muncy said, "but when it came down to it, I just missed it. No excuses for that. I feel like I got there and just missed the ball."

"I think it's just one of those nights," Roberts said. "Max has played very well for us defensively, and we've been moving him around the diamond. Just a tough night for him, but he works hard, prepares, and unfortunately, with Clayton on the mound, we couldn't get it done."

Los Angeles struck first Saturday, working Brewers starter Chase Anderson for a 43-pitch first inning that saw Chris Taylor drive in both Dodgers runs with a single. But later in the inning, Enrique Hernandez struck out with the bases loaded and kept the Brewers in striking distance.

Video: LAD@MIL: Taylor lines a 2-run single to left field

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kershaw's scoring chance: With the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth inning, Kershaw broke from third for home on a passed ball and was tagged out at the plate by Brewers rookie pitcher Corbin Burnes. After a Matt Kemp strikeout and a Muncy flyout, the Dodgers didn't score in the frame and clung to a 2-1 lead.

Kershaw said his secondary lead was too small and he "didn't have that momentum moving forward." Roberts vouched for his ace by saying it's a difficult read for any player on third base.

On his comfort with Kershaw's aggression on the basepaths, Roberts said: "When he gets in the batter's box, whether it's fouling pitches off, acting like a position player, or on the bases trying to go first and third or sliding in at home plate, it's hard to have him gear down because he's there to win a baseball game."

Video: LAD@MIL: Burnes covers the plate to tag Kershaw

The fifth-inning rally was the Dodgers' last big threat against the Brewers' bullpen; Burnes earned his first career win after escaping the bases-loaded, no-out jam.

"The key was getting the first [out]," Burnes said. "[Brewers catcher Erik Kratz] knew exactly how we were going to attack Kemp and Muncy. Getting that first one out of the way, knowing I had to face Kemp and then Muncy ... we were able to get to get out of that with a momentum shift and turn the game around."

Muncy gets support: Out of the Major Leagues in 2017, Muncy has gotten his best opportunity this season with the Dodgers. Primarily a first and second baseman during his two seasons with the Athletics, Muncy has gotten time at third in the absence of Justin Turner, who appeared as a pinch-hitter on Saturday and may return to the lineup Sunday. With a lack of big league experience at the hot corner, Muncy added two errors to the four he already had in 34 games at third base this season.

After the sixth-inning error that led to the Brewers' third and fourth runs, Kershaw approached Muncy in the dugout and offered support.

"[Kershaw] came right up to me and said, 'You're all right, you've got more coming tonight,'" Muncy recollected. "It wasn't just him. It was everyone on the team. It helps pick you up as a player."

Video: LAD@MIL: Braun scores from second base on an error

SOUND SMART
Kershaw entered Saturday's contest having not surrendered an unearned run since Sept. 12, 2017, in San Francisco. It was the first time he had allowed more than one unearned run since Sept. 8, 2014, and the three unearned runs were a career high.

HE SAID IT
"We're not going to be super aggressive, but you should be able to get dirt-ball reads, take the extra base, do the things that are part of the National League, which I love about it. It's part of baseball, and to me, baseball is a two-sided game and you should be able to play offense and defense." -- Kershaw, on how he views baserunning as a pitcher

UP NEXT
Left-hander Alex Wood (5-5, 3.92 ERA) gets the nod for the Dodgers as they conclude a three-game set with the Brewers at Miller Park on Sunday at 11:10 a.m. PT. Wood has thrown a quality start in five consecutive outings, including allowing three runs over six innings in his last first-half start against the Angels on July 14. Left-hander Brent Suter (8-5, 4.39) will toe the rubber for the Brewers.

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw