LOS ANGELES -- Three days after squandering nine shutout innings from Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals wasted yet another spectacular starting performance on Tuesday, this one by Lance Lynn, who rose to the challenge presented by Clayton Kershaw.
Lynn went eight terrific innings, delivering 123 pitches (the third-highest total of his career) and allowing the Dodgers to turn only two of those into hits. Nevertheless, the Cardinals fell for the fifth time in six games, this time losing, 2-1, in 13 innings.
"Just a dogfight," manager Mike Matheny described it as afterward.
Plenty of offenses go cold against Kershaw, who moved past Cardinals right-hander Mike Leake on the ERA leaderboard Tuesday. But this wasn't an isolated episode of a strong start gone unrewarded.
Over the last six games, the Cardinals' rotation has limited opponents to six runs over 42 1/3 innings. And yet, the Cardinals are 1-5 during that stretch. That included a series loss against the Giants in which St. Louis' starting pitchers surrendered one run in 21 1/3 innings.
Bullpen blowups cost this team games last week against Boston. Defensive miscues and puzzling baserunning decisions have complicated matters, too. And then there's the offense, which has had enduring stretches with no production.
It scratched across four hits over 13 innings on Tuesday. The Cardinals also played two other 13-inning games over the past week and both of those featured scoring droughts of at least 11 consecutive innings.
"[We've] faced a lot of good arms," said Randal Grichuk, who briefly sparked the offense by scoring from second on Kershaw's ninth-inning wild pitch. "It's baseball. If the pitchers keep doing what they're doing, we know what kind of offense we're capable of and it's going to come around."
Lynn's masterpiece lowered the Cardinals' rotation ERA to 3.06, tops in the Majors. Three members of the staff -- Leake (2.03), Lynn (2.53) and Michael Wacha (2.74) -- individually rank among the National League's top five.
After allowing a 418-foot home run to Yasmani Grandal in the first inning, Lynn delivered 93 pitches before the Dodgers tallied another hit. It came with one out in the eighth.
Navigating through Tuesday's Dodgers lineup required that Lynn figure out a way to counter a load of left-handed bats. The Dodgers lined their lineup with lefties to play to Lynn's splits. Lefties had slashed .289/.393/.566 and posted a .959 OPS against Lynn this season, compared to the .133/.212/.222 slash line put up by right-handers.
But Lynn held the Dodgers' left-handed hitters to two hits in 19 at-bats. He notched six strikeouts against them, 10 in total, giving Lynn his ninth career 10-strikeout performance and first in over two years.
"I was just able to execute more times than not tonight," Lynn said. "If I don't give up any runs, then we can't lose. That's how I approach every game. You want to outduel whoever you're pitching against that night."
Matheny gave Lynn every opportunity to do so, even letting him remain in the game with his pitch count rising and two aboard in the eighth. After Matheny's mound visit, Lynn emphatically ended his night by striking out Logan Forsythe for the fourth time.
"Overpowering stuff," Matheny said. "That was one of those special outings. That was his game as long as he was good to go."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.