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Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw stumbles as Dodgers drop first game of second half to Cardinals, 7-1

July 15, 2010 |  7:57 pm
So it’s not going to be a straight line up, OK? This career of Clayton Kershaw will have its dips.

There will be times when it seems certain the Dodgers have that ace they need right there on their own staff. And times like Thursday, when he will remind everyone he is still just 22.

The Dodgers opened the second half of the season in St. Louis with what had all the makings of a great pitching duel -- Chris Carpenter vs. Kershaw.

Only Kershaw couldn’t hold up his end, succumbing again to his first-inning blues and just generally having trouble keeping the ball down in the Cardinals’ 7-1 victory.

Kershaw walked the first two batters he faced, and his night’s pattern had been established. Both runners scored, but trouble in the first inning has been a theme of the left-hander’s all season.

He has yet to have a 1-2-3 first inning in 19 starts. He has a 5.21 ERA in the first inning, and a 2.76 ERA after that.

Kershaw (9-5) lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks. In his brief outing, he managed to throw 88 pitches.

In his previous two July starts, Kershaw had been brilliant, going 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA.

Rookie Travis Schlichting, who entered the game with a 0.64 ERA in six relief appearances, gave up two more runs in the seventh.

Meanwhile, Carpenter cruised.

He gave up a solo home run to Andre Ethier in the fourth, but otherwise held the Dodgers in check. He went eight innings, allowing four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.

The Dodgers are now 4-18 in St. Louis since 2004.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, right, pats pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the back during the first inning of the Dodgers' 7-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday. Credit: Jeff Roberson / Associated Press