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This looks familiar: Dodgers lose another tight one, 3-2 to Reds, to fall eight games back

June 14, 2011 | 10:17 pm

Tuesday looked like too many Dodgers games this season: a close contest, a big hit that never came, a struggling bullpen, another defeat.

The Dodgers wasted a strong outing by Clayton Kershaw, falling, 3-2, to the Reds as the relievers faltered once again.

The loss dropped the Dodgers to 31-38 and a season-high eight games back of the San Francisco Giants.

It was a pretty terrific pitching duel, though as it’s been going for the Dodgers lately, not quite terrific enough for their starting pitcher.

Kershaw, who pitched well early in his last start before struggling in the sixth and seventh innings and losing to Colorado, held the Reds without a hit through the first three innings.

By then he was up, 1-0, thanks to an unearned run the Dodgers scored in the first inning.

Dee Gordon led off with a single to center. Jamey Carroll walked to advance Gordon to second.

Andre Ethier then hit a ground ball that should have resulted in a double play. But Brandon Phillips’ relay to first went wide for an error. First baseman Joey Votto retrieved the ball quickly, but not quickly enough to even make a play on the speedy Gordon, who scored without a throw.

It remained 1-0 until the fourth. Then Drew Stubbs collected Cincinnati’s first hit, a hard bouncer down the third base line that Juan Uribe grabbed too late to make a throw to first. Kershaw got Phillips to pop out, and after Stubbs stole second, the left-hander struck out Votto.

Yet just when it appeared he might escape the inning, Kershaw walked Jay Bruce and gave up a run-scoring double to Scott Rolen.

Bruce also tried to score on the play, but the Dodgers turned a perfect relay from Tony Gwynn Jr. to shortstop Gordon to catcher Rod Barajas, who nicely blocked the plate before applying the tag.

With right-hander Johnny Cueto matching Kershaw, it remained 1-1 through seven innings.

Kershaw left after seven, having allowed the one run and four hits. He walked two (one intentionally) and struck out four. He had thrown 104 pitches but still appeared to be throwing comfortably.

Regardless, Blake Hawksworth took over in the eighth and almost immediately surrendered the go-ahead run.

Pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo singled, Stubbs’ bunt sacrificed him to second and a Phillips’ single sent him to third. At that point, Manager Don Mattingly called on left-hander Scott Elbert to face Votto, who promptly singled in Cario.

The Reds added one more in the ninth against reliever Mike MacDougal on Stubbs’ RBI single for what proved to be the decisive run.

The Dodgers tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth after Matt Kemp walked, stole second and scored on a James Loney single. Trent Oeltjen pinch-ran for Loney and stole second -- going in standing up and just beating the throw -- but Barajas popped out to end it.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas tags out Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce at the plate during the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss Tuesday. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times