ST. LOUIS — "It was going to end at some point," Clayton Kershaw said. "Unfortunately, it had to happen tonight."
The Dodgers' ace was referring to the team's streak of 15 consecutive wins on the road, the longest in franchise history and tied for the third-longest in big league history.
It was only the eighth loss in the last 40 games for the first-place Dodgers. But as it has often done in the past, the club struggled to give their former Cy Young Award winner much run support.
The Dodgers scored one run against Cardinals starter Joe Kelly (3-3) in Kelly's 51/3 innings of work, and overall they hit into four double plays.
The Dodgers' previous loss also came in a Kershaw start, when the New York Yankees shut out the Dodgers, 3-0, on July 31.
The lack of offense for Kershaw is "pretty frustrating," Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier said. "We better correct it once we come to late August and September."
Kershaw (10-7) gave up two runs and six hits in six innings, and St. Louis scored both runs in the fifth inning.
"The hits they got, they weren't great pitches," said Kershaw, who on Monday was named National League pitcher of the month for July, when he was 4-1.
"I left some sliders up and they hit the ball hard," he said after his earned-run average rose from 1.87 to 1.91. "They made me pay."
The Dodgers had a chance to post a big inning in the sixth but failed to capitalize.
After Adrian Gonzalez singled in Carl Crawford, who had doubled, to cut the lead to 2-1, the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out. But St. Louis reliever Seth Maness got catcher A.J. Ellis to hit into a double play to end the threat.
"He did his job," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said of Maness. "He got us to hit the ball on the ground."
In the seventh inning, Juan Uribe led off with a double. But Nick Punto's bid to move Uribe to third base with a bunt backfired when Cardinals catcher Cruz picked up the ball and threw Uribe out at third.
It was still a 2-1 game in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Dodgers reliever Brandon League gave up two home runs.
Carlos Beltran slugged the first one against League, who then walked Matt Holliday. Pinch-hitter Matt Adams followed with a two-run shot into the right-field stands.
Asked about the end of the road winning streak, Mattingly replied, "The only game you're really worried about is tonight's game."
But Kershaw said the streak was "definitely not something to take lightly, with what we accomplished. It just means we need to start a new one tomorrow."