The elements for an emotional victory were in place Sunday, which is why Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen were particularly regretful about their roles in the Dodgers' 10-inning, 7-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Kershaw served up a seventh-inning home run to Brandon Hicks that turned the Dodgers' 2-1 advantage into a 3-2 deficit.
"I have to shut the door right there," Kershaw said.
Hanley Ramirez hit a ninth-inning home run to push the game into extra innings, only for Jansen to unravel spectacularly in a three-run 10th inning for the division-leading Giants.
"That cannot happen," Jansen said. "I take it on me."
Defeated three times in the four-game series at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers dropped 4 1/2 games behind the Giants in the National League West. The Dodgers have lost seven of their last 10 games.
But aside from his own performance, Kershaw was encouraged by how the Dodgers looked in the last two games.
The Dodgers came from behind to win Saturday and collected 14 hits Sunday.
"I thought we played really good baseball all the way around," Kershaw said. "Guys were making plays, getting big clutch hits, moving guys over, playing the game the right way."
Ramirez, who was hitless in the first three games of the series, went two for five Sunday with a home run, a double, two runs batted in and two runs. Adrian Gonzalez, who is also slumping, drove in a run with a sixth-inning single. Andre Ethier, who started for the first time since Wednesday, had three hits, including two doubles. Matt Kemp made some outstanding plays in center field. Yasiel Puig hit his sixth home run. Kershaw was strong for seven innings (seven hits, no walks, nine strikeouts), except for one bad pitch to Hicks.
"We just haven't synced up at this point," Manager Don Mattingly said.
However, Gonzalez said, "Today, there were signs of it.
"I think we play like we played today the rest of the way, we win this division," he said. "Things will start rolling our way if we play with that kind of intensity, that kind of energy."
The Dodgers are 20-19. At the same point last season, they were 17-22 and in last place. They won the division, but had to win 42 times in a 50-game stretch to do it.
Gonzalez said the Dodgers don't expect to go on a similar run this season. "But if we can turn it around starting tomorrow, we don't have to," he said.
Gonzalez, who is three for his last 36, also called on himself to make a turnaround when the Dodgers open a three-game series at home Monday against the Miami Marlins.
"I feel good," he said. "Really, hitting the ball hard has not been the issue. Finding the hole has."
Gonzalez noted that his offensive slide began the previous weekend in South Florida.
"The whole thing started against Miami, so it ends against Miami," he said.
Like Gonzalez, Kershaw wants the Dodgers to start winning games soon rather than wait for a repeat of their historic run last year.
"You hate to say [it's a] matter of time because we don't have time," Kershaw said. "We need to play better. We have to play with that sense of urgency."
For his part, Jansen said he wanted the opportunity to close a game Monday. "I'm just going to go out there and compete," he said.
Jansen's fastball was clocked in the low 90s Sunday; it has been in the mid- to high 90s for most of the season. But Jansen, who has pitched in 21 of the team's 39 games, said nothing is wrong physically.