LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw was reduced to lamenting one of his at-bats, which gave him plenty of company in the Los Angeles Dodgers' clubhouse following Tuesday's 6-3 loss to the San Diego Padres.
"If I bunt the guy over instead of striking out, Mark [Ellis] gets a hit and it's 2-1," Kershaw said. "Little things like that get magnified on days like this."
That's the problem. It has been a small mountain of days like this for the Dodgers, even after they spent a mountain of cash to inject star power into their lineup. The Dodgers' lack of offense is painting their pitchers into corners and even Kershaw, the master of many brush strokes, wasn't capable of pitching his way out of it Tuesday.
"I would have liked to get a little more out of the start we got from Kersh," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
He pretty much has been the same guy who shoved his way to the front of the pack at 23 and won the National League Cy Young Award, maybe just a tick off that form. He's on the cusp of 200 innings again. He just got to 200 strikeouts for the third straight season. The difference, of course, has been run support and the ability of Dodgers relievers to keep his leads safe. Matt Guerrier gave up a two-run home run to Yasmani Grandal, that one swing unraveling all of Kershaw's handiwork. He has one win since Aug. 15.
This team's most pressing problem right now is an offense that has added bushels of kindling and is failing to catch fire. The Dodgers have scored more than four runs just once in the first six games of this homestand and three of the games have gone 11 innings.
Much of the problem is in the middle. The Dodgers had the game on a tee in the 10th inning, but a San Diego reliever named Tom Layne struck out Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, cutting through the heart of the Dodgers' order with one swift stroke.
Gonzalez hasn't started producing at his usual level and Kemp is probably more hurt than he's letting on. He's 3-for-21 since hitting that wall in Colorado and banging his left shoulder. Other than something going awry with your hands, the last thing you want to hurt if you're a hitter is your front shoulder.
"I don't think he's 100 percent, that's for sure," Mattingly said. "This game's tough enough when you're 100 percent. When you're trying to play banged-up, it changes some things."
The Dodgers seem to have the right pieces. They just can't seem to get them in the right places to succeed often enough.