Clayton Kershaw struggles as Dodgers defeat White Sox, 7-6

Something was wrong with Clayton Kershaw.

Perhaps he had an off night. Perhaps his injured left foot was bothering him more than he would admit.

Whatever the case, Kershaw didn’t look like himself Friday night, when he was charged with five runs and eight hits in six innings.

But Kershaw was spared a defeat by a furious comeback by his teammates, who erased a four-run deficit and went on to beat the Chicago White Sox, 7-6, at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers maintained their four-game edge over the second-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

“Wow, our team is unbelievable right now,” Kershaw said. “It’s really fun to be a part of. They picked me up today.”

When the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner was replaced in the game by pinch-hitterIvan De Jesus Jr. in the bottom of the sixth inning, he was in line for his third defeat in five starts.

De Jesus singled inA.J. Ellisin what turned out to be a five-hit, five-run inning for the Dodgers. With the Dodgers ahead, 6-5, Kershaw was suddenly in line for a win.

Alex Rios made certain he didn’t get it, hitting an eighth-inning sinker by reliever Ronald Belisario into the left-field pavilion to tie the score, 6-6. The home run was Rios’ second of the game.

With two outs and men on the corners in the bottom of that inning, White Sox reliever Matt Thornton threw a wild pitch that allowed James Loney to score from third and reclaim the lead for the Dodgers at 7-6.

Decision or no decision, Kershaw’s form was disconcerting.

Kershaw served up two home runs Friday night, increasing his season total to 10. He gave up 15 home runs all of last year.

Through his first 10 starts, Kershaw had a 1.97 earned-run average. Over his last four appearances, he has a 5.26 ERA.

The timing of Kershaw’s sharp decline has coincided with an injury to the foot he pushes off when pitching. For the last couple of weeks, he has received treatment for plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick tissue at the bottom of his foot.

“It’s fine, it really is,” Kershaw insisted. “It’s not affecting me.”

Kershaw’s unsightly statistics over his last four games are largely a reflection of two substandard starts. In addition to being knocked around Friday night, he was charged with five runs and eighth hits in 52/3 innings at Milwaukee on May 30.

Kershaw’s troubles Friday started immediately. In the first inning, he gave up a home run to Adam Dunn that put the Dodgers behind, 2-0.

The Dodgers took back a run in the bottom half of the inning, but Kershaw gave up runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. The last came on a towering shot by Rios that landed halfway up the left-field pavilion.

The Dodgers were down, 5-1, when he left the game.

“I got everybody 0-2, couldn’t put them away,” Kershaw said.

But Kershaw wasn’t the only ace who had problems Friday night. So did Chris Sale, who entered the game with a 2.05 ERA that was the lowest in the American League.

Sale unraveled in the game-changing the sixth inning and was replaced by Jesse Crain with two outs, men on the corners and the White Sox leading, 5-3.

But Elian Herrera doubled in two runs and Juan Rivera singled in another to move the Dodgers in front, 6-5. Sale was charged with a season-high five runs and seven hits in 52/3 innings.