Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig watches during the second inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Members of the Los Angeles Dodgers watch during the eighth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Dodgers fans watch during the ninth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws against the Houston Astros during the third inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen throws against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Dodgers' Yu Darvish watches from the dugout during the eighth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Thursday, November 02, 2017 1:00 am
Dodgers' title drought reaches 30 years with Series loss
BETH HARRIS | Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Even Clayton Kershaw couldn't save the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner tossed four scoreless innings of relief when starter Yu Darvish fell into a five-run hole after 1 2/3 innings Wednesday night.
But the Dodgers' offense never put it together. Los Angeles mustered just six hits, hit into a double play and stranded 10 runners in a 5-1 loss to Houston that extended its championship drought to 30 years.
It was a clunker of an ending for baseball's best team during the regular season.
The Dodgers won 104 games, boasted an NL-leading six All-Stars and won the NL West for the fifth consecutive year. They won 43 of 50 games over a two-month stretch from June to early August, the best 50-game run in the majors since the 1912 New York Giants.
Their lead reached a whopping 21 games on Aug. 23, and they survived an 11-game September skid to coast into October.
Boasting the majors' highest payroll of $240 million, Los Angeles rolled past Arizona in the NL Division Series and then knocked off the defending champion Cubs in six games in the NL Championship Series to reach their first World Series since 1988.
The Dodgers and Astros dueled to a 3-all tie through six thrilling games, with Los Angeles rallying to force the first World Series Game 7 in Dodger Stadium history.
But, a few miles from Hollywood, the script got flipped.
Manager Dave Roberts, so quick with his hook all season, left Darvish in to face hot-hitting George Springer in the second. Springer blasted a two-run homer — his record-tying fifth of the Series — and Houston extended its lead to 5-0.
Brandon Morrow got the last out of the inning before Kershaw came on in the third. The left-handed ace gave up two hits, struck out four and walked two, leaving fans to question why Roberts didn't start Kershaw on short rest in the first place. Or at least bring in Kershaw to face Springer in the second.
Especially since Darvish only managed five outs in losing Game 3 at Houston, when he also lasted just 1 2/3 innings. He's the second pitcher in World Series history with less than two innings pitched in two starts.
Darvish took the loss, giving up five runs — four earned — and three hits. He didn't record a strikeout and walked one.
Acquired at the July trade deadline, Darvish was best known in the Series for being the target of a racist gesture by Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel.
Kenley Jansen appeared earlier than usual, too. The closer, who tied for the NL lead with 41 saves, trotted out in the seventh to face the top of the Astros' order. He induced a flyout from Springer, struck out Alex Bregman and walked Jose Altuve, who stole second before Carlos Correa popped out to shortstop.
Alex Wood, another starter working in relief, retired six consecutive batters over the eighth and ninth innings.
Roberts made 32 pitching changes in the Series, breaking a record set by St. Louis' Tony La Russa in 2011.
With Kershaw pumping his fists and yelling, "Let's go!" from the dugout, the Dodgers got two runners on with no outs to open the sixth.
Andre Ethier, the longest-tenured Dodger, pushed across one run with a pinch-hit RBI single. That allowed the crowd of 54,124, stunned into silence early, a rare moment to cheer.
But the Dodgers stranded two more runners and trailed 5-1.
Their big bats were silenced, too. Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Turner, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson were a combined 4 for 22. Bellinger whiffed three times, and his 17 strikeouts were a Series record. He also broke Yankees star Aaron Judge's freshly set record with 29 strikeouts this postseason.
The Dodgers didn't manage a baserunner over the last three innings, keeping their title drought intact.
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