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Dodgers waste another Clayton Kershaw gem, get swept by Astros

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Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Jason Castro hit a walk-off home run into the waiting arms of an eager fan in the Crawford Boxes in left field, sending the Dodgers to a painful 3-2 loss in 10 innings and a three-game weekend sweep at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Dodgers have lost five straight games for the first time since May 1-10, 2013.

Chris Hatcher struck out the first batter he faced in the 10th inning, his 11th straight batter retired since returning from the disabled list. Then came Castro, who hit his 11th home run of the season.

It was a frustrating end to an infuriating week for the Dodgers, who took a lead into the ninth inning on Sunday.

Staked to a one-run lead, Sunday pitcher Kenley Jansen, in his first appearance in a week, allowed a leadoff single in the ninth inning to Carlos Correa, who then stole second, putting the tying run in scoring position. Jansen nearly got out of the inning, but Marwin Gonzalez hit a game-tying single to right field to tie the game at 2-2.

It snapped a string of 17 straight saves converted by Jansen, and for the second time this week Clayton Kershaw was robbed of a win.

Kershaw ended his day with 10 strikeouts and no walks in his eight innings, allowing just one run on seven hits, the eighth time in his last nine starts he allowed zero or one run. It was the fifth start this season for Kershaw with double-digit strikeouts and no walks, surpassing Sandy Koufax in 1965 for most ever by a Dodgers pitcher in one season.

A key moment came with the Dodgers up a run in the seventh, Kershaw allowed a double to Evan Gattis to open the inning, putting the tying run in scoring position. But he struck out Gonzalez, Chris Carter and Jake Marisnick all on sliders, the first two after falling behind 3-0 on the first two batters.

"That's why Clayton Kershaw is Clayton Kershaw," said Charley Steiner on the SportsNet LA broadcast, after the completion of the seventh inning.

Carlos Gomez grounded out to shortstop to end the eighth and conclude Kershaw's day after 111 pitches, but the 110th pitch was a long fly ball down the left field line that had home run distance but was just foul.

It was not the first time Gomez came close to scoring the tying run.

The Dodgers got on the board early on Sunday, with Chase Utley hitting a double down the left field line with one out in the first inning, then advancing to third base on a wild pitch by Lance McCullers, and scoring on a sacrifice fly to center field by Justin Turner.

Opportunity came knocking again in the fifth inning, when A.J. Ellis hit another one-out double, then with two outs advanced a base on two wild pitches, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

The Astros followed that formula to a tee in the sixth inning, when Jose Altuve picked up the requisite one-out double, his third hit of the day. He then advanced to third base on a jam shot single by Gomez, then scored on a ground ball by Correa off the foot of Clayton Kershaw, cutting the Dodgers lead to 2-1.

Gomez was nearly thrown out advancing on a fly ball to third base thanks to a spectacular throw by Yasiel Puig, but then was nabbed for the third out of the inning when he tried to catch Kershaw napping by stealing home.

There was a scare on the play, as Gomez inadvertently kicked Ellis in the head as he was getting tagged out at home. Ellis remained on the ground for a minute or so, but after examination by trainer Stan Conte in the dugout remained in the game.

But the Dodgers couldn't tack on any additional runs, since McCullers didn't throw any more wild pitches. The club went 0-for-9 on Sunday with runners in scoring position, and the razor thin margin for error came back to bite the Dodgers in the end.

Notes

Kershaw has allowed 17 earned runs in his last 16 starts, and lowered his ERA on the season to 2.29, now fourth in the majors. He is tied with Chris Sale for the major league lead with 222 strikeouts.

Ellis doubled and singled in four at-bats, and on the season raised his batting line to .227/.356/.364, with an above average 107 wRC+. Major league catchers entering Sunday were hitting .240/.303/.380 collectively.

Yasiel Puig was 2-for-4, extending his hitting streak to seven games, hitting .360 (9-foor-25) during the streak. He also struck out looking in the ninth, and was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, though the argument appeared to consist of Puig dropping the bat and putting his hands on his hips.

Andre Ethier entered Sunday in an 0-for-9 skid but went 3-for-3, his fifth game this season with at least three hits.

Altuve was 6-for-11 with a home run, a triple, a double and three runs scored in the weekend series for Houston.

The Dodgers are 5-7 in extra-inning games this season.

The Dodgers fell to 46-14 when scoring first this season.

Up next

The Dodgers are off Monday, and will open a three-game series on Tuesday night in Cincinnati with Alex Wood on the mound in the first game. John Lamb gets the start for the Reds.

Sunday particulars

Home run: Jason Castro (11)

WP - Luke Gregerson (7-2): 1 IP, 1 hit

LP - Chris Hatcher (1-5): ⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 strikeout