The Cardinals lead the best-of-five series, 1-0.
Kershaw cruised through six innings, allowing a pair of solo home runs but literally nothing else and held a 6-2 lead. It was only after Matt Holliday led off the seventh inning with a single that Kershaw had to pitch from the stretch all game.
But that was the beginning of the end.
St. Louis had four consecutive singles to center field and opened the inning 5-for-6, cutting the Dodgers lead to 6-4, still threatening with the bases loaded and one out. After a visit to the mound from manager Don Mattingly, Kershaw remained in the game, striking out rookie pinch hitter Oscar Tavares on three pitches.
Mattingly said once Kershaw got past Taveras he planned to let him face Carpenter, and would have only removed his pitcher under one circumstance.
"Only if he's just out of gas," Mattingly explained. "His look on his face and his answer was confident and really that's all I needed to hear."
Matt Carpenter, the man whose 11-pitch at-bat opened the floodgates and typified the Cardinals' destruction of Kershaw in Game 6 of the NLCS last year, and the man who homered against Kershaw one inning earlier, delivered the fatal blow again against Kershaw on Friday, hitting the eighth pitch for a three-run double to right center field, putting the Cardinals on top 7-6.
The double knocked the air out of a raucous Dodger Stadium, and chased Kershaw from the game.
"It was my fault we lost the game," Kershaw said.
Mattingly laughed off any suggestion that Kershaw might be tipping his pitches from the stretch or that the Cardinals were stealing signs.
"He does the same thing all year long," Mattingly said. "We have changed signs, multiple signs, different things we're tying to do, so no [it didn't figure in Friday's loss]."
Kershaw also downplayed such talk.
"I feel like it discredit's the Cardinals as a team," Kershaw said. "They battled through some tough at-bats."
Hopes of a comeback were severely dashed two batters later when Holliday, this time against Pedro Baez in his playoff debut, launched a three-run home run to left field to widen the Cardinals' advantage.
Not that it stopped the Dodgers from trying.
The Dodgers scored two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to chase Adam Wainwright after he allowed six runs and a season-high 11 hits.
Yasiel Puig was prominently involved with a pair of hits and getting hit by a pitch from Wainwright in a 1-0 game, setting off a little tussle in the early going that was long since overshadowed by the coming avalanche of runs.
Puig scored three times, Matt Kemp had three hits, and the Dodgers got a pair of two-run home runs from A.J. Ellis and Adrian Gonzalez.
The Dodgers scored a run against Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth and had the tying run 90 feet away, but Puig struck out to end the game.
"You don't really get any credit for coming close," Mattingly said. "But I'm realy proud of our guys. We got four down there, it would have easy to go away. But our guys kept battling.
"We didn't get this far by losing a game in there and saying, 'Oh we're going to take our ball and go home.' We're going to show up tomorrow and be ready to play."
Kershaw with his 10 strikeouts joined Sandy Koufax (three times) as the only Dodgers with multiple double-digit strikeout games. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Kershaw is also the first pitcher ever in the postseason to allow eight runs while striking out 10 in a game. The only one to strikeout 10 and allow seven runs was Randy Johnson in Game 1 of the 1999 NLDS.
Home runs: A.J. Ellis (1), Adrian Gonzalez (1); Randal Grichuk (1), Matt Carpenter (1), Matt Holliday (1)
WP - Marco Gonzalez (1-0): 1 IP, 1 hit
LP - Clayton Kershaw (0-1): 6⅔ IP, 8 hits, 7 runs, 10 strikeouts
Sv - Trevor Rosenthal (1): 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 runs, 2 strikeouts