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Dodgers settle for split, slip out of first place

Kershaw holds A's to 2 runs over 6 innings in no-decision
MLB.com @kengurnick

OAKLAND -- Having won Tuesday night with precision execution and dominant relief, the Dodgers did neither on Wednesday night and lost to the A's, 3-2, dropping back into second place one-half game behind Arizona.

It's been back and forth in the National League West, with six lead changes in the last 10 days. The biggest lead the Dodgers have had this year is 1 1/2 games. At this time last year, the Dodgers led by 15 games.

View Full Game Coverage

OAKLAND -- Having won Tuesday night with precision execution and dominant relief, the Dodgers did neither on Wednesday night and lost to the A's, 3-2, dropping back into second place one-half game behind Arizona.

It's been back and forth in the National League West, with six lead changes in the last 10 days. The biggest lead the Dodgers have had this year is 1 1/2 games. At this time last year, the Dodgers led by 15 games.

View Full Game Coverage

"We'll take last year -- when we were up how many games? -- any day of the week," said Clayton Kershaw. "We couldn't lose. This team is figuring it out, we're playing well at times. This year, it's going to be more of a dogfight. If we do end up making the postseason, it might help, who knows?"

Video: LAD@OAK: Kershaw, Grandal on 3-2 loss to Athletics

Reliever J.T. Chargois drew the loss, pitching in his second inning and his second consecutive game. He retired the A's in order in the seventh on nine pitches, but allowed a leadoff single in the eighth to Marcus Semien, who was singled to third with one out by Jed Lowrie.

Khris Davis followed with a two-bouncer fielded by third baseman Manny Machado, who threw home. With Semien's path to the plate forcing Machado's throw inside the baseline, catcher Yasmani Grandal tried to backhand the throw and reach back for the tag, but dropped the ball.

Video: LAD@OAK: Semien races home to give A's lead in 8th

"I thought we had him out," said manager Dave Roberts. "A little bit throw to Yasi's right, but if he catches it clean, he's out."

The throw was in time, because home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski originally motioned out, then realized the ball was on the ground and the go-ahead run scored.

"With the ball coming in at an angle and you've got to reach, it's going to be a close play and you can't really use two hands, it's got to be a swipe tag and a bang-bang play," said Grandal. "All I felt was the ball in my hand and I reached for the tag. There's not much to it. Semien did a really good job staying in the baseline to make the throw go inside. Heads-up play by him."

Chargois had taken over for Kershaw, who squared off with Mike Fiers in a no-decision draw. Kershaw allowed two runs on six hits in six innings with only one strikeout and no walks.

"Clayton didn't have his best stuff," said Roberts. "But he made pitches when he needed to."

Video: LAD@OAK: Roberts on Kershaw's outing, loss to A's

Fiers, who no-hit the Dodgers three years ago while with Houston, opened the game with eight strikeouts in four perfect innings, but didn't make it out of the sixth inning.

Kershaw didn't dominate early like Fiers, but he kept Oakland scoreless until a 28-pitch fourth inning, when the A's parlayed singles by Khris Davis, Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty and Ramon Laureano for a pair of runs. Canha's came on an 0-2 pitch, while Laureno's was a blooper that dropped between second baseman Brian Dozier and right fielder Yasiel Puig.

"I didn't have much of anything tonight. It was pretty much smoke and mirrors," said Kershaw. "That's a good team. I was getting ahead of a few guys, but a lot of hits with two strikes. Didn't have those put-away pitches tonight. This was definitely not one of my most memorable performances, that's for sure."

Grandal finally ended Fiers' perfect game and 12-inning no-hitter against the Dodgers with his 20th home run leading off the fifth inning, the third consecutive year he's hit at least that many. The Dodgers then left runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings, but tied the game with a soft hit of their own. Cody Bellinger led off the seventh inning with a single and scored two outs later on Chris Taylor's soft line drive to left-center.

Video: LAD@OAK: Grandal skies 20th HR for Dodgers' 1st hit

But the Dodgers left runners in scoring position in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings as well. They were 1-for-7 and struck out 11 times, the fourth time in the last five games that the Dodgers have struck out in double figures.

"I don't know what their approach was," said Fiers. "Looked like they were swinging pretty hard for the fences. I got a couple strikeouts. I'll take them."

SOUND SMART
Kershaw's first strikeout came 4 1/3 innings into his start, the longest he has gone into a start without a strikeout in his career and his only strikeout of the night. This was the second time in his career in which he started a game and struck out only one.

Video: LAD@OAK: Kershaw freezes Chapman for 1st K of game

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Max Muncy's line single in the fifth inning against his former club ended a personal streak of eight consecutive strikeouts.

HE SAID IT
"It just speaks to the parity of the National League. Any team can beat anybody." -- Roberts, on the close division race

UP NEXT
Ross Stripling will return from a 10-day stay on the disabled list to start the Thursday night opener of a four-game series in Colorado, facing Tyler Anderson in a 5:40 p.m. PT game. Stripling steps into the starting slot of Alex Wood, who is on the 10-day DL. Before his All-Star Game appearance, Stripling's ERA was 2.08; since then, it's 9.35.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw