Travis Blackley -- an Australian who pitched last year in Korea and was claimed off waivers from San Francisco in April -- had the lucky assignment of facing the Dodgers and he matched Kershaw with one run allowed on three hits for a career-high eight innings. For the series, the Dodgers scored two runs on eight hits.
That's for the entire series. That's why you will continue to hear rumors of the Dodgers shopping for the Carlos Lees of the world, at least until Matt Kemp returns.
"Honestly, we didn't do enough in any of the games to win any of them," said manager Don Mattingly. "We didn't put them in any danger at any point of the series. We didn't have guys in scoring position. You can't really expect to win if you don't get guys on base. We got chances and didn't execute. They got chances and we didn't execute. We're not good enough to not execute. We didn't deserve to win any of these."
The only run Kershaw allowed was in the second inning. Left fielder Elian Herrera played a single by Johnny Gomes into a double, Kershaw wild pitched Gomes to third and he scored on Brandon Inge's sacrifice fly.
Otherwise, Kershaw was effective bordering on dominant (retiring 13 straight at one point), even though he said he didn't have great stuff and his fastball was a few ticks slower than usual.
"I didn't miss up too much and didn't have that one pitch that got me," Kershaw said after allowing four homers in his previous three starts and getting worn out by reporters' questions about left foot soreness from plantar fasciitis.
"I hope I won't get that question anymore," he said.
Before the game, Mattingly said he sensed Kershaw was frustrated this season and not having fun, perhaps from unrealistic expectations after last year's record-breaking season that turned him into one of the faces of the franchise.
"Every time he doesn't throw a two-hit shutout, it's like, 'What's wrong with Clayton?' That's not fair," Mattingly said.
Kershaw was a 21-game winner last year, but is 5-3 with seven no-decisions this year and one win since a May 19 shutout of St. Louis.
"It's fun to win and fun to pitch good and that's what I'm trying to do," Kershaw said. "Not pitching up to expectations can be a little frustrating. I definitely want to have fun, too. You've got to be able to strike that balance."
And the Dodgers have got to be able to play the game properly to win close ones and not lose them as they did in the ninth inning. Matt Treanor led off the top of the ninth with a walk. Dee Gordon bunted foul twice, then put down a good bunt fair, only for third baseman Inge to make a better play and throw Treanor out at second base.
Gordon later said he didn't realize that the bunt sign was taken off when he got two strikes; Mattingly wanted him to swing away. Safe at first on the play at second, Gordon then was thrown out trying to steal second base by A's catcher Derek Norris, who was making his Major League debut. Herrera struck out to end the inning.
The bottom of the ninth was fatal. Lindblom took over for his buddy Kershaw and walked Coco Crisp after having him 1-2, then wild pitched the speedster to second base. Jemile Weeks followed with a good sacrifice bunt that was fielded by Lindblom, who whirled to throw to third, only to find third baseman Juan Uribe standing next to him. Lindblom ate the ball and the A's had runners on the corners for Cespedes, the Cuban rookie sending a laser just inside the left-field foul pole on a fastball that wasn't inside enough.
"That's two days in a row we don't get outs on bunts. That's disappointing," said Mattingly, referring to an almost identical foul-up by pitcher Nathan Eovaldi on Wednesday night on a Weeks bunt that extended a two-run inning. "We preach it and preach it and preach it. Get an out, get an out, get an out. If you don't, you're in trouble. We flat-out didn't execute."
Lindblom not only took the blame for the bunt ("I've got to be smarter than that," he said), he also beat himself up for the walk to Crisp that started the mess.
"The biggest thing was the leadoff hitter that set everything into position," he said. "And the wild pitch was huge because that meant the runner got to third on that bunt."
The Dodgers didn't get a runner to third after Juan Rivera's two-out RBI single in the fourth cashed in Herrera's double.
"I just tried to attack the zone and be economical, which I was," said Blackley.