Kershaw's legacy takes hit in World Series loss

HOUSTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Clayton Kershaw's playoff legacy took a big hit on Sunday as he let another possible postseason victory slip from his grasp in a performance that left the Los Angeles Dodgers with their back against the wall in the World Series.

Kershaw had a solid chance to finally change the popular perception about him as a dominant regular season pitcher who could not extend that form into the playoffs but his showing in the Dodgers' Game Five loss the Houston Astros will only bolster the narrative.

SEE ALSO: Astros and Dodgers complain of ‘slicker’ baseball in World Series

The Dodgers left-hander had the luxury of a three-run lead before he even threw a pitch and a four-run edge entering the fourth inning but somehow gave it all back in stunning fashion.

Los Angeles may have squandered a number of leads but even after the ace of their rotation left the game with his head down in the fifth inning they did well to battle back before falling 13-12 in 10 innings.

"It's a tough one, no doubt about it," said Kershaw, who gave up six runs on four hits. "Everybody did as much as they possibly could to pick me up and it's a testament to our team.

"They battled really hard."

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Dogers vs Astros World Series Game 5
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HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros reacts after an at bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Chris Devenski #47 of the Houston Astros pitches during Game 5 of the 2017 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on Sunday, October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by LG Patterson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Logan Forsythe #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a double during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Austin Barnes #15 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after scoring on a single during the ninth inning against the Houston Astros in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers collides with Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros as he is tagged out during the tenth inning in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Derek Fisher #21 of the Houston Astros slides in to home plate scoring the game winning run during the tenth inning against Austin Barnes #15 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates after hitting a game-winning single during the tenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros tags out Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at third base during the seventh inning in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates after hitting a game-winning single during the tenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Josh Reddick #22 after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers during the tenth inning in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates after hitting a game-winning single during the tenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: The Houston Astros celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in extra innings during game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Jose Altuve #27 and Yuli Gurriel #10 of the Houston Astros celebrate after a two-run home run by Carlos Correa #1 (not pictured) during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Unlike in previous years, the 29-year-old left-hander had been getting better with each playoff round and along the way was silencing the naysayers who for years have blamed him for the Dodgers' early playoff exits.

When Kershaw took the mound in the opening game of the World Series, he became the first pitcher in World Series history to strike out 11 or more batters while yielding three or fewer hits without a walk.

But on Sunday, with the best-of-seven series tied at two games apiece, the best pitcher of his generation was expected by many to finally clear the few remaining clouds hanging over an otherwise brilliant career.

He was solid at the start, facing the minimum nine batters through the first three innings before running into a whole heap of trouble in the fourth.

"I just lost my command a little in that fourth inning and that's all it took," said Kershaw, who boasts three Cy Young Awards as the top pitcher in the National League and has been named an All-Star in each of the last seven seasons.

It all began with a George Springer walk to lead off the inning. Jose Altuve later hit a one-out single that put runners of first and second. Carlos Correa's double finally put Houston on the board and set the stage for Yuri Gurriel to tie it up.

The Cuban first basemen promptly hit a shot to left field that tied the game up at four.

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The best photos from the 2017 World Series
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The best photos from the 2017 World Series
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Logan Forsythe #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers scores a run on a RBI single hit by Enrique Hernandez #14 (not pictured) to tie the game 5-5 during the tenth inning as Brian McCann #16 of the Houston Astros is unable to make the tag in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers licks his bat during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Oct 28, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Joc Pederson (31) hits a three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the 9th inning in game four of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game one of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers loses his hat as he attempts to catch a RBI single hit by Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros (not pictured) during the third inning in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Marwin Gonzalez #9 of the Houston Astros runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Carlos Correa #1 and Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrate after hitting solo home runs during the tenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Logan Forsythe #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers scores a run on a RBI single hit by Enrique Hernandez #14 (not pictured) to tie the game 5-5 during the tenth inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros celebrates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run during the eleventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Yuli Gurriel #10 of the Houston Astros hits a solo home run during the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Josh Reddick #22 of the Houston Astros slides in to home plate during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers scores on a wild pitch by Brad Peacock #41 of the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in game three of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he hits a RBI double during the ninth inning against the Houston Astros in game four of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros dives and fails to make a catch on a RBI triple by Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (not pictured) during the seventh inning in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers gestures after hitting a three-run home run during the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Oct 29, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger (35) climbs into the stands to catch a foul ball hit by Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (not pictured) in the 9th inning in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros hits a game-winning single during the tenth inning against Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates after hitting a game-winning single during the tenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Derek Fisher #21 of the Houston Astros slides in to home plate scoring the game winning run during the tenth inning against Austin Barnes #15 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Nov 1, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates Jose Altuve (27) , Alex Bregman (2) and Marwin Gonzalez (9) after hitting a two-run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second inning in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Nov 1, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel (10) celebrates after forcing out Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (5) in the 9th inning to win game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Nov 1, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Charlie Morton (50) and catcher Brian McCann (16) celebrate with teammates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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When Kershaw came back out for the fifth inning he had a three-run lead thanks to a three-run shot by Dodgers rookie slugger Cody Bellinger but still could not find his command.

Kershaw issued a pair of walks and forced the Dodgers to turn to their bullpen way earlier than they had hoped.

"He was rolling. He was throwing the ball well, good rhythm. And I don't know, I think that the Gurriel pitch, took a good swing on a pitch and kind of was just left out over," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

The series shifts to Los Angeles on Tuesday where the Dodgers, who were the best team in baseball all season, will try to force a decisive seventh game that would be played on the West Coast on Wednesday.

Kershaw, who acknowledged that he would be available to enter Tuesday's game if the team calls on him, said nothing needed to be said to his teammates about Sunday's loss.

"We don't need to talk about it. Everybody knows what we need to do," said Kershaw. "It's not a matter of character or effort. This clubhouse has shown time and time again that they can overcome adversity.

"Well go back home and get ready for Game Six." 

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