Things had been going so incredibly well for the Dodgers, it had to be humbling. It had to be foreign and irritating, but mostly humbling.
The Dodgers, who have been the best team in the major leagues for more than two months, were swept by the Cincinnati Reds, falling, 3-2, Sunday for the third consecutive game to drop their fourth game in a row.
The Dodgers had not lost four games in a row since an eight-game losing streak in early May.
In a series that had a playoff atmosphere, the Dodgers were left lacking.
For the third consecutive game, their bullpen struggled. This time it was Ronald Belisario (5-7), who gave up a one-out single to Zack Cozart in the ninth inning before Ryan Hanigan doubled into the left-field corner to drive Cozart home.
The Dodgers probably would have had a play at the plate, but Hanley Ramirez’s relay was up the first base line.
Aroldis Chapman (4-5), again throwing 102 mph, pitched a perfect ninth inning.
Kershaw battled it all game, struggling to maintain his control. Particularly, if not strangely, against Bruce.
Bruce hit a home run the second inning, which was sort of news. It was the first home run Kershaw gave up to a left-handed hitter this season.
Then to show it was no fluke, Bruce hit a shot in the fourth inning. It was only the third time in his career Kershaw gave up two home runs in the same game to a left-handed hitter.
Bailey did not surrender a hit until Adrian Gonzalez singled with two outs in the fourth inning, and at that point Bailey had struck out six consecutive Dodgers.
But Ramirez followed with a run-scoring double to tie the score, 1-1.
Bruce’s home run in the bottom of the inning gave the lead back to the Reds, but Ramirez pulled the Dodgers even in the seventh inning with a home run, his 17th.
Despite his command issues, Kershaw gave up four hits, walked three, hit two batters and struck out seven in seven innings.
Bailey also pitched seven innings, surrendering his two runs and six hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out nine.