"It was a tough one, I struggled all the way through, pretty much" said Kershaw. "Give the Pirates credit. They did a good job battling me the whole night. I didn't have good stuff. Two strikes a few times, I couldn't put anybody away. Both of my breaking balls weren't working the way I wanted to. One of those nights."
Kershaw allowed nine hits, four earned runs, with five strikeouts in six innings, needing 97 pitches. He walked two, hit one and had a wild pitch.
That's the most hits he's allowed since April 11, the most earned runs since May 21, the fewest strikeouts since May 10, the fewest innings pitched since June 17 and fewest pitches since June 1.
Kershaw now has the fourth- (41 innings, 2014) and the fifth-longest (37) scoreless-innings streaks in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Orel Hershiser (59, 1988) is first with a Major League record, followed by Don Drysdale (58, 1968) and Zack Greinke (45 2/3, 2015). Greinke and Kershaw are the first teammates to have streaks of at least 35 innings in the same year since 1908 (Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown and Ed Reulbach with the Cubs).
Kershaw is one of six pitchers since 1974 to have had multiple 30-plus-inning scoreless streaks and, according to Elias, he's the first since Luis Tiant in 1968 and 1972 to have multiple single-season scoreless streaks of 37 or more innings.
Kershaw had not given up a run since July 3 (five starts back) and a home run since June 22.
Polanco, though, ambushed Kershaw's first offering of the game, a 93-mph fastball.
"First pitch of the game, just daring him to hit it -- he did," said Kershaw. "So, good job."
Physically, Kershaw didn't mention anything about the hip issue that bothered him on the last homestand, but he had plenty of other physical issues to discuss. He knocked down one grounder with his bare pitching hand, deflected another with his shoe, then was drilled on the ankle by a 94-mph fastball from Gerrit Cole, the 14-game winner who struggled as well.
"I got beat up tonight, but all good," Kershaw said. "The ankle ball, didn't feel great. I'm sure it'll hurt tomorrow, but I'll be fine."
Kershaw was taxed to make 37 pitches in the fourth inning, escaping with allowing only one run on a bases-loaded walk to nemesis Chris Stewart when he broke from personal custom and went to a 3-0 count pitching out of the stretch, then switched.
"Once I get to two outs with a runner on third, I like to throw out of the windup," he said. "Because I had thrown so many out of stretch that inning, I didn't have good rhythm. My mistake, I should have stayed out of stretch, guess after 3-0 it was too late. There had to be at least 30 in row I threw from the stretch. It probably messed up the routine a little there."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.