Dodgers go dark in spotlight again with All-Star let down

National League pitcher Walker Buehler, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, throws during the fifth inning of the MLB baseball All-Star Game against the American League, Tuesday, July 9, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
National League manager Dave Roberts (30), of the Los Angeles Dodgers, talks with National League Kris Bryant (17), of the Chicago Cubs, during the fifth inning of the MLB baseball All-Star Game against the American League, Tuesday, July 9, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
National League pitcher Clayton Kershaw, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, throws during the second inning of the MLB baseball All-Star Game against the American League, Tuesday, July 9, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

CLEVELAND — When the national spotlight turns on, the Los Angeles Dodgers go dark.

They're lucky this one doesn't count.

Clayton Kershaw gave up Michael Brantley's go-ahead double.

Walker Buehler allowed Jorge Polanco's run-scoring single.

Dave Roberts added a second All-Star loss to go along with World Series defeats to Houston and Boston.

Even Cody Bellinger flailed during the National League's 4-3 defeat to the American League on Tuesday night, striking out against Masahiro Tanaka and Lucas Giolito.

Sure, this was the All-Star Game, a night to strut and shine. But it followed flops in the Series for a franchise without a title since 1988.

Running away from the rest of the NL West leaves the Dodgers with comparatively little pressure to prepare them for the crucible of October. Los Angeles is a major league-best 60-32 and leads second-place San Diego 13½ games, primed to have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Might as well start printing the playoff tickets now.

But that advantage didn't help in 2017. After winning a major league-high 104 games and breezing by Arizona and the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs, the Dodgers lost Game 7 to Houston when Yu Darvish gave up five runs in the first two innings.

They won their sixth straight NL West title last year, by just one game over Colorado after winning 92 games, and lost the Series to the Red Sox in five games.

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