He allowed single runs in the first, sixth and seventh innings when [a] Juan Pierre couldn't pick up the ball in the left field corner on Albert Pujols' double, allowing a runner to score from first.
[b] A play at the plate that Blake DeWitt nearly threw over Russell Martins head, allowing a second run after the runner had reached base on a little pop that James Loney lost in the sun and played the ball off the side of his head
And [c] and an error on a stolen base attempt in the seventh.
Kershaw could be excused if he wondered about the quality of play in the big leagues.
In between the odd happenings, he used a fastball that hit 97 and 72 mph curve to strike out the side in the first inning, finishing his six innings with seven punch-outs and five hits, two of the scratch variety.
His support came from Luis Maza's first major league home run while starting in place of Jeff Kent at second base; an RBI double by Martin that missed being a home run by 3" and another RBI single by the Dodger catcher.
He left the game in a 3-3 tie and the remarkable Dodger bullpen -- his time Cory Wade, Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito (3-1) allowed two infield hits and struck out 10 over the final four innings.
The Dodgers had two hits with runners in scoring position and are now 2-for-29 over the past four games. Seven of the nine hits came from Maza (2), Ethier (3) and Martin (2).
The other five position players and pinch-hitters were a combined 2-for-23, including fresh-off-the-Las-Vegas-Shuttle Terry Tiffee who ignited the game-winning 10th inning rally with a looping single to left field.
Pierre forced him at second and he moved to second on a wild pitch before Ethier's rifle shot into right field that won the game. The hit could have gone for a double if needed.
With all the unusual happenings, the game was exceptionally tight.
Kershaw was understandably excited in the opening inning and would spend 32 pitches getting out of it.
He took nine pitches to strike out leadoff man Skip Schumacher, walked Kris Benson on four pitches, took Albert Pujols to 3-2 before the Cardinal first baseman fouled off two before doubling past Blake DeWitt into the left field corner.
Pierre couldn't get the handle on the ball quick enough to hold Benson at third base and the Cardinals led 1-0. Kershaw then fanned Ryan Ludwick on nine pitches and nailed Troy Glaus looking to retire the side.
He left the field with the big crowd cheering and applauding, making it obvious that he will be a fan favorite.
Maza, a 10-year minor leaguer, ripped a fast ball just over the left field wall for his first home run and a tie game. Cardinal pitcher Todd Wellemeyer had allowed zero home runs in his five most recent starts.
Kershaw would use only 43 pitches over the next four innings and the Dodgers took the lead in te fourth when Ethier shot a single into right field and Martin crushed a long shot to center field that hit at the very top of the wall and bounced back onto the field.
James Loney, who was 0-for-12 in the three-game series, and Matt Kemp, who was 1-for-10, left Martin waiting a second base.
The Cardinals got a gift run in the sixth to tie the game 2-2. Kershaw struck out the first batter of the inning, his seventh, and final, 'K' of the game.
Benson then popped up just behind first base and Loney fought the sun, then turned his head and the ball glanced off the side of his head and was somehow ruled a hit.
Kershaw seemingly had struck out Pujols on a 2-2 pitch but it was called a ball and the Cardinal muscled a single to right field., moving Benson to third with none out.
Ludwick hit a bouncer to DeWitt and he had Benson dead to rights at home plate but threw very high, with Martin unable to make a tag on the play.
Unruffled, Kershaw got a pop to second and an easy fly ball to left to end the inning and his first start.
He had thrown a first pitch strike to nine of the last 10 batters he faced and used 102 piches to complete the six innings.
Pierre led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to center and Maza bunted him to second. Ethier lofted a fly to left, running the Dodgers tab to 0-for-26 with runners in scoring position before Martin singled to left for a 3-2 lead.
With Kershaw in line for a win on his first start, the Dodgers gave the run right back.
Cory Wade walked the former Dodger Cesar Izturis to open the inning and Joe Beimel took over. Beimel, who owns the best pickoff move in the league, somehow allowed Izturis to steal second base and when Martin's throw skipped by Chin-Lung Hu, playing short for Rafael Furcal, he moved right on to third base.
Jonathan Broxton, the Dodgers third pitcher of the inning, allowed a sac fly to tie the game. Broxton also was allowed to bat in the last of the seventh with two out and Hu on first with an error.
The big relief pitcher had only two previous times at bat in the big leagues and nearly picked up a hit when the banged a ground ball into the hole at short only to see Izturis throw him out by a step at first.
Los Angeles got back-to-back singles by Maza and Ethier in the eighth but Loney and Kemp were unable to cash them in.
Broxton finished his two innings with four strikeouts to his credit and Saito worked the next two, striking out five before Ethier's first walk-off hit of his career.
With Kershaw's seven strikeouts, the pitchers recorded 16 "Ks" during he game.
Tiffee's major League debut was nearly as good as Kershaw's. His fly ball to left field was perfectly placed between the fielders and Ethier cashed in the winning run out out later.
The Dodgers improved to 26-23 and stay 3 1/2 behind Arizona who blasted Atlanta earlier. They caught a plane to Chicago, arriving some time around midnight and meet the Cubs in an afternoon game with Chad Billingsley on the mound for L.A.
Score by innings St. Louis 100 001 100 0-3 Los Angeles 100 101 000 1-4 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Pierre lf 5 2 1 0 .286 Maza 2b 3 1 2 1 .500 Sweeney ph 1 0 0 0 .111 Ethier rf 5 1 3 1 .299 Martin c 4 0 2 2 .314 Loney 1b 4 0 0 0 .276 Kemp cf 4 0 0 0 .309 DeWitt 3b 4 0 0 0 .306 Hu ss 4 0 0 0 .188 Kershaw p 2 0 0 0 .000 Wade p 0 0 0 0 .000 Beimel p 0 0 0 0 .000 Broxton p 1 0 0 0 .000 Saito p 0 0 0 0 .000 Tiffee ph 1 0 1 0 1.000 Totals 38 4 9 4 St. Louis 35 3 7 3 Error- Martin (5). 2-base hit- Martin (8). HR- Maza (1). S- Maza. LOB- Los Angeles 6, St. Louis 7. DP- Hu and Loney. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Kershaw 6.0 5 2-2 1 7 3.00 Wade 0.0 0 1-0 1 0 1.54 Beimel 0.1 0 0-0 0 1 1.12 Broxton 1.2 0 0-0 0 3 4.35 Saito (3-1) 2.0 2 0-0 0 5 1.66 T- 3:18. Att- 46.566.Dodger Blue Notes-- When Clayton Kershaw took the mound he became the fourth-youngest starting pitcher in Los Angeles Dodger history at 20 years, 65 days. The rest of the list:
Joe Moeller, 1962 19 years, 2 months Dick Calmus, 1963 19 years, 7 months Edwin Jackson, 2003 20 years, 0 months Mike Kekich, 1965 20 years, 2 months Fernando Valenzuela, 1981 20 years, 4 months Dennys Reyes, 1997 20 years, 85 days Rick Sutcliff, 1976 20 years, 101 days Ramon Martinez, 1988 20 years, 4 monthsKershaw will also be the first Dodger starting pitcher to make his Major League debut at Dodger Stadium since Kazuhisa Ishii did so on April 6, 2002. ...Although since 2004 the Redbirds have a 24-8 record against Los Angeles, over the history of the National League, the Dodgers have won 991 games and the Cardinals, 987. ...Since May 16, Los Angeles has just nine extra-base hits (three homers, five doubles, and a triple), which is last in baseball by a wide margin. Arizona is second-to-last with 16. ...The Dodgers hosted nearly 300 members of the Los Angeles Dominican community today, including the Consul General of the Dominican Republic in California and the U.S. Western Region, Celeste Jiménez Peña. The first Olympic Gold Medalist for the Dominican Republic, Felix Sanchez, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The group also posed for a photo with Dodger Dominicans Rafael Furcal, Manny Mota, and Mariano Duncan.