ST. LOUIS -- The streak had to come to an end at some point.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had stressed that time and again when he was asked about his team's 15-game road winning streak, which finally came to an end Tuesday night with a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
It was the longest road winning streak the National League had seen since 1957, the longest in MLB history since 1984 and fourth longest in baseball history. It was rarified air that breathed new life into the Dodgers. But winning the most games in a row away from home wasn't a goal for the Dodgers this season.
"We're not too worried about that streak," Dodgers shortstop Nick Punto said. "Our goal is to win the division, and that’s it."
The Dodgers looked as if they would be in position to win their 16th straight road game Tuesday with Clayton Kershaw on the mound. He leads the MLB in ERA (1.87), opponents' batting average (.185) and WHIP (0.86), although he doesn't get much run support when on the mound. He pitched four shutout innings Tuesday and had the Dodgers within one run going into the eighth inning. But unlike other times during their winning streak, the Dodgers couldn't find any late-game heroics.
Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly allowed only one run and six hits through 5 1/3 innings. Kershaw pitched six innings, giving up six hits and two runs and striking out five, before he was taken out and the Dodgers fell apart.
Brandon League, who had gone 3-0 with 8 2/3 scoreless innings in his past seven appearances, gave up solo home runs to Carlos Beltran and Matt Adams in his brief appearance in the eighth inning and the game was effectively over by the time he walked off the mound.
Before the game, Mattingly said he was encouraged by the progress Hanley Ramirez was making with his jammed shoulder and Matt Kemp was making with his sprained ankle while adding it would be hard for the Dodgers to continue winning if they were out for an extended period of time.
"If you lose Matt and Hanley for a month then it starts getting hard," Mattingly said. "Then you'll start seeing little things happen, you'll see less production out of our offense."
The Dodgers are hoping Ramirez will be able to get back in the lineup within the week with Kemp returning sometime this month. That'll hopefully add some life to their offense. Until then, the Dodgers will try to start a new streak and build on their 32-8 record since June 21, which is the best 40-game stretch the Dodgers have had since 1953.
"We feel that we can win anywhere and we feel like we're going to win every day and we pretty much have," Mattingly said. "So there's no reason not to think that."