Clayton Kershaw knew the source of his downfall. No doubt, it was the ninth spot in the order.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lefty couldn't handle pitcher Adam Wainwright, who earned his first two RBIs of the season and contributed mightily to Kershaw's worst outing in three seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals' 8-2 victory on Tuesday night.
"If I get Adam Wainwright out today, I probably give up maybe one run the whole game," Kershaw said. "It's just frustrating. A lot of things were frustrating — some two-out hits, some things that definitely could have been avoided by me."
The loss ended the Dodgers' five-game winning streak.
Wainwright (8-10) outdid Kershaw on the mound, too, allowing two runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings. He went deep into the game despite 103-degree heat.
Kershaw (7-6) gave up eight runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings, the second-most runs ever allowed by the 2011 NL Cy Young winner. Kershaw, who entered with a 2.74 ERA that ranked among the NL leaders, gave up a career-worst nine runs in 4 2-3 innings on April 26, 2009 at Colorado.
"I threw some good at times, just not when it counted," Kershaw said. "The sixth inning I got behind a lot of guys and got in trouble."
Kershaw sailed through the first four innings in 51 pitches, then needed 53 against 14 batters to get his last five outs.
"It looked like he was rushing trying to do more and more out there," catcher Matt Treanor said. "He was speeding up a little bit and coming out of his rhythm.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly saw the same thing.
"You never say cruising against a lineup like they've got," Mattingly said. "But with Clayton out there, you feel like you're in pretty good shape."
Mattingly didn't think the triple-digit temperature was a factor, noting that Kershaw was a "training machine." But Mattingly added, "The heat could knock it out of anybody."
Wainwright was a career .223 hitter entering the year with five homers and 23 RBIs. He was batting .079 (3 for 38) with three singles and 17 strikeouts this season.
Wainwright doubled to left-center with two outs in the fifth for St. Louis' first run, then scored the tying run on Rafael Furcal's single. After Daniel Descalso was intentionally walked to load the bases in the sixth, Wainwright walked on five pitches to give the Cardinals a two-run lead in a six-run sixth that put them up 8-2.
Kershaw was trying to throw a fastball in on Wainwright, and left it out a little bit over the plate. Kershaw stayed in the game after a mound conference but lasted just one more batter.
"I went out there and told him to get back into that rhythm. It looked like he was rushing," Treanor said. "He's that competitive where he wants to do more and more out there."
The Cardinals have won four of five.
Kershaw allowed two runs in 14 innings the two starts before Tuesday and threw a shutout against the Cardinals in Los Angeles in May. The Dodgers gave him a vote of confidence after Wainwright's walk, leaving him in, but Kershaw lasted just one more hitter before departing after Furcal's two-run infield hit.
Descalso scored from second on Furcal's infield hit, fielded up the middle by shortstop Luis Cruz, and Allen Craig added a two-run double off Josh Lindblom.
The Dodgers had scored only two runs in 28 2-3 innings against Wainwright in St. Louis before getting two in the fourth. Four straight batters reached safely with one out, and Juan Rivera and Cruz had an RBI apiece.
Cruz is 8 for 30 during a seven-game hitting streak and has an RBI in five consecutive games.
Wainwright is 3-1 with a 1.09 ERA at home against the Dodgers.
NOTES: A crew of three umpires began the game with Eric Cooper out sick and a replacement en route. There were no issues before John Tumpane arrived in time for the bottom of the third. ... Kyle Lohse (10-2, 2.71) is fifth in the NL in ERA entering Wednesday night's matchup against Aaron Harang (7-5, 3.46), who has lost his last four decisions against St. Louis. ... Wainwright threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of 30 hitters. ... The Dodgers' Adam Kennedy tweaked a groin muscle earlier in a pinch-hit at-bat before singling and was day to day. ... James Loney had two hits and is a career .435 hitter (10 for 23) against Wainwright.