"We just weren't able to put any runs on the board tonight," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "I felt like we battled all night. We got beat."
Kershaw scattered six hits over seven innings and struck out 10, his most since May 14. The Dodgers' lone All-Star was charged with all three runs to fall to 8-6 in 20 starts, despite an impressive 1.98 ERA that ranks among the best in baseball.
"It happens some times," said Kershaw, who had a string of three straight wins halted. "You just battle and try to limit the damage as best you can."
Yasiel Puig, nursing a sore left hip, exited the game after four innings. He grounded out twice, jogging to first base with a noticeable limp each time. Puig aggravated the same hip Thursday and played seven innings. The rookie says the hip has bothered him since he slammed his leg into the right-field fence at Coors Field on July 3. Scott Van Slyke replaced him in right field and went 0-for-2.
"It was bothering me a little bit," Puig said through a translator. "It feels a lot better today. I'll rest, get some treatment and see how it feels tomorrow. I really want to get on the field and play because we're close to first place [in the National League West]."
Without Puig, the Dodgers collected fewer than 10 hits for the first time in five games and were shutout for the sixth time this season.
Skip Schumaker, inserted into the lineup after Carl Crawford was scratched with a stiff lower back, singled in the third for the Dodgers' first hit. Hanley Ramirez doubled in the fourth and Andre Ethier singled in the seventh to account for the only other hits off Nicasio.
The Dodgers threatened in the ninth, as Adrian Gonzalez led off with a single up the middle off Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt. Ramirez just missed a home run, flying out to the warning track for the second time in four at-bats. Ethier lined out to right and A.J. Ellis flew out to center to strand Gonzalez at third.
Ellis was 0-for-4 to end a season-high nine-game hit streak.
Friday was Kershaw's third start against the Rockies this year, and first since he shut them out in Colorado on July 2. Any thought of a repeat ended quickly, as the Rockies scored twice in the first inning -- doubling their output from Thursday's game -- on three singles, a stolen base and a sacrifice fly.
"They just put some good at-bats on me," Kershaw said.
The Rockies came out swinging, knowing they would have few opportunities once Kershaw found a groove.
"It's critical if you're going to beat a guy like Kershaw, you have to get to him early," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss. "Once he settles in, you're not going to gain anything off of him. The first inning was huge."
Kershaw did settle in and retired nine straight batters after Charlie Blackmon punctuated a 12-pitch at-bat with a double to lead off the second. But Kershaw began the fifth by walking Nolan Arenado, who later scored.
Nicasio, recalled from Triple-A before the game, went seven innings to earn his first win since May 19. The right-hander struck out three against one walk and pounded the strike zone throughout. Nicasio fared much better in this one than he did in his last start at Dodger Stadium, when he lasted just four innings and allowed three runs.
"I thought he did a nice job of getting ahead in the count," Mattingly said. "He's kind of one of those effectively wild-type guys. He throws strikes. He's always around the zone. It's hard to kind of dial him in. He's got good stuff. I don't think his stuff has ever been in question. It's a matter of him being able to get ahead in the count, and tonight he was able to. I thought he did a nice job."
Despite the loss, the Dodgers own the best record in the Majors since June 22 (16-4) and are 13-3 over their past 16 games against the NL West. The Dodgers have not lost consecutive games since June 20-21 in San Diego.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.