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Dodgers LHP Kershaw chased in first inning of NLDS against Diamondbacks

Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw - The Canadian Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw sat in the dugout with his eyes downcast before putting his head in his hands.

He had just crashed out of Game 1 of the NL Division Series, getting tagged for six runs and recording just one out against the Arizona Diamondbacks in an 11-2 loss Saturday night.

“It’s a tough way to start the postseason,” a subdued Kershaw said. “Obviously, we still have a chance at this thing but that wasn’t the way it should have started for me.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner had never made a start in which he had pitched less than one inning. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts had expected Kershaw to throw about 85 pitches.

Instead, he was gone after 35.

“I don't think anybody in the baseball world was expecting that,” teammate Freddie Freeman said.

Five batters up and five runs scored without an out in the first.

“It’s just embarrassing really,” Kershaw said. “I just feel like I let everybody down.”

Kershaw, 35, had two strikes on five of his eight batters while allowing the most runs in any first inning in the franchise's postseason history. It was his shortest outing as a starter in his 16-year career, all spent with the Dodgers.

“Obviously, I didn’t make some great pitches and then sometimes I thought I did make some good ones and they hit them too,” he said.

Roberts said Kershaw will return to start Game 4 in Phoenix.

“I'll be ready,” Kershaw said.

The left-hander has a checkered career when it comes to the playoffs. He is 13-13 with a 4.49 ERA in the postseason, compared to a regular-season record of 210-92 with a 2.48 ERA.

Kershaw, who is eligible for free agency after this season, missed six weeks with a shoulder injury that neither he nor the Dodgers have said much about. The team carefully managed his outings, which did not go beyond 5 1/3 innings in eight starts since coming off the injured list on Aug. 10.

“There’s nothing health-related here,” he said afterward. “Just bad pitching.”

Kershaw had a 2.22 ERA over his final five outings in the regular season, so few could have predicted what happened in the NLDS opener — a brief performance that left the Dodger Stadium crowd in stunned silence.

“It was more shocking,” Roberts said.

Kershaw gave up a leadoff double to Ketel Marte after the ball went off the glove of center fielder James Outman. Corbin Carroll followed with a RBI single, making it 1-0.

Tommy Pham singled to left and Christian Walker doubled off the base of the bullpen gate for a 2-0 lead.

Gabriel Moreno came up next and belted a three-run shot to left.

“Usually Clayton does a great job of controlling, managing damage,” Roberts said.

Kershaw retired Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on a grounder to shortstop, needing 26 pitches to get the first out of the inning. He became the first first starting pitcher in MLB postseason history to allow five hits and five runs before recording an out, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Kershaw then walked Alek Thomas. That set up Evan Longoria's RBI double to left-center, extending Arizona's lead to 6-0.

“Regardless of anything that happened out there, I have to be better,” he said. “That’s just not acceptable.”

Rookie Emmet Sheehan came in and got two quick outs to end the inning, striking out Geraldo Perdomo and retiring Marte on a groundout.

Kershaw recorded his 200th career victory April 18 against the New York Mets, becoming just the third pitcher in franchise history to accomplish the feat.

He got his 10th All-Star selection, tying Pee Wee Reese for the most by a Dodgers player. On Sept. 10, he notched his 210th career win, overtaking Don Drysdale for second-most in franchise history. He finished the regular season with a 13-5 mark and 2.46 ERA. He had 137 strikeouts in 131 2/3 innings, his most since 2019.

Injuries limited Kershaw's outings in 2019, 2020 and 2021. He won his first World Series title during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.