ST. PETERSBURG (WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays have waited almost six year to see if they could figure out the puzzle that was Clayton Kershaw, but the lefty considered to be one of the best of this generation stymied Tampa Bay hitters again, as he pitched into the seventh, allowing just a pair of runs, while Los Angeles hitters pounded out 12 hits in a 7-3 decision Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
Los Angeles jumped on Hunter Wood for a run in the top of the first, as Max Muncy reached on a bunt single and scored when Justin Turner's base hit went under Avisail Garcia's glove in right center and rolled to the wall.
Turner made it 2-0 against Jalen Beeks in the third, as his sacrifice fly scored David Freese, who doubled to start the inning and moved to third on a Muncy groundout.
An RBI single by Austin Barnes an inning later gave Los Angeles a 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Rays hitters were able to reach in every inning between the second and sixth, but none were able to be advanced further.
After Beeks put up zeroes in the fifth and sixth, Dodgers hitters put up three more runs on him in the seventh on three straight RBI singles by Kike Hernandez, Corey Seager and pinch-hitter Joc Pederson.
Tampa Bay finally got on the board in the bottom of the seventh as Daniel Robertson singled off Kershaw with one out, and Guillermo Heredia followed with a double. Dave Roberts brought in Pedro Baez to face Willy Adames, and the Rays shortstop broke the shutout by lining a Baez pitch back off his leg, scoring Robertson. Austin Meadows then singled off Scott Alexander to plate Heredia, and Tommy Pham doubled in Adames to cut the deficit to 6-3. However, Alexander got Ji-Man Choi to fly out and Dylan Floro induced Garcia, who reached in all three plate appearances against Kershaw, to ground out to end the inning.
Tampa Bay also had their issues on the basepaths, as Kevin Kiermaier was thrown out at third base by Alex Verdugo trying to stretch a double into a triple off Floro to begin the eighth.
Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth to end the contest.
The loss drops Tampa Bay back to two games behind New York for the lead in the American League East.
Tampa Bay Rays (27-18) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (32-17), 7:10 pm first pitch, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 6:00 with The Inside Pitch.
Rays starter: RHP Ryne Stanek (0-1, 3.70 ERA)
Dodgers starter: LHP Rich Hill (1-1, 3.00 ERA)