"I think we hung in there against one of the best pitchers in the game," said Peter Bourjos, whose two-run homer tied it in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss on Sunday night.
"We knew going into this game that their guy, he's not going to give us a lot," manager Mike Matheny said. "I think they're pretty accustomed to him not giving up anything. That's a great job staying with it, fighting."
Adrian Gonzalez hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning off closer Trevor Rosenthal (1-5), pitching for the third consecutive day after earning saves the first two games. Matheny said he was "hesitant" to go with set-up man Pat Neshek, who'd also pitched the first two games plus pitched in the All-Star Game.
"That's the way the game rolls," Rosenthal said. "Just a bad pitch. I just missed a little too much inside."
The Dodgers pulled into a tie for first place with San Francisco in the NL West despite a so-so outing from Kershaw, who had been 8-0 with an 0.74 ERA his previous eight starts. Yasiel Puig did not play after getting hit by a pitch on the left hand a day earlier and the Dodgers finished without Hanley Ramirez, who was taken out in the ninth — also after getting struck on the left hand.
Gonzalez leads the National League with 38 road RBIs. He missed a chance earlier, flying out with the bases loaded to end the fourth. J.P Howell (2-3) got the last out in the eighth and Kenley Jansen finished for his 28th save in 31 chances.
Kershaw lost his previous four starts in St. Louis, the last two in the NLCS. Manager Don Mattingly said before the game that he had no doubt that bitterness lingered from Game 6 last fall when Kershaw was tagged for seven runs in four innings and the Dodgers were eliminated.
Kershaw was booed before flying out to end the sixth, a byproduct of dueling hit batsmen two innings earlier. Both benches were warned after Carlos Martinez drilled Ramirez in the shoulder and Matt Holliday was plunked by Kershaw leading off the bottom half.
Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier had consecutive two-out RBI singles in the third to put the Dodgers up 3-1. The inning was fueled by Kershaw's leadoff walk on a full count, and Martinez was removed after escaping the fourth.
"Typically, bad things are going to happen and they did," Matheny said. "He thinks more is better and sometimes it is, sometimes it just takes him out of rhythm.
"We needed to get him out of there."
The highlight of the Dodgers' fruitless fourth was Kershaw's first career stolen base — his first attempt, too. Kershaw was running on a 1-1 pitch in the dirt and took second without a play with two outs.
Shelby Miller had made 50 consecutive starts over two seasons before entering in the sixth, and he was taken out after the first two Dodgers reached in the seventh. Coming out of the All-Star break, Miller was moved to the bullpen and after the game Matheny said Lance Lynn (11-6, 3.13) will start on regular rest Wednesday against the Rays.
Matheny said Miller is in the bullpen to regain strength and added, "We're going to need him."
NOTES: The Cardinals have a day off Monday before beginning a two-game interleague series against Tampa Bay. Ace Adam Wainwright (12-4, 1.83) is set for Tuesday against Jake Odorizzi (5-8, 4.01). ... Hyun-Jin Ryu (10-5, 3.44) starts for the Dodgers Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Edinson Volquez (8-6, 3.65). Ryu is 6-2 with a 2.75 ERA on the road and 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA in nine starts against the NL Central. ... Kemp made an outstanding diving catch in left to rob Matt Adams of a bloop hit in the sixth.