The Tampa Bay Rays, like the sun, set in the west Sunday night.
Handcuffed by Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, the Rays managed three hits and lost 8-2 at Dodger Stadium.
The Rays went 0-5 on the trip out West for their first winless trip since going 0-6 through New York and Cleveland in July 2008.
The Rays have lost seven of their past nine, a slump that followed a run in which they won 19 of 22.
“It was tough for us,” center fielder Wil Myers said of the trip. “We didn't hit well. We just weren't in the game sometimes. We struggled. That's all there is to it.”
Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, like Roberto Hernandez on Saturday, put his team in an early hole and didn't last long.
Hellickson allowed four runs in three innings, marking the third time in his past three starts that he failed to finish five innings.
“I'm not pitching well,” said Hellickson, 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in his past three starts. “The past few games I've been in a spot where I make a big pitch with two outs and I'd be fine and I could work deep into the game. Every time I don't get the job done. The last two weeks have been pretty frustrating, but I'll be OK.”
The Rays needed a big night from Hellickson, since it might have been the only way to beat Kershaw – the major-league leader in ERA (1.88) and opponents' batting average (.184).
Hellickson allowed three runs in the third inning with the biggest hit being a two-out, two-run single by Kershaw. Carl Crawford kept the rally going with a single, and Mark Ellis made it 3-0 with an RBI double.
Yasiel Puig doubled to start the third and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.
The game was almost a mirror image of Saturday's 5-0 loss. In that game, Hernandez allowed all five runs during his four innings and the Rays managed just six hits against Zack Greinke and a pair of relievers.
“We just haven't pitched well. We didn't give ourselves a chance the last couple of days,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We normally do give ourselves an opportunity to keep the game close and win it. It's just difficult when you give those last two pitchers the cushion that we did.”
The Rays were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position during the final two games at Chavez Ravine, so they did have some chances.
They also lost twice on this trip when leading in the eighth inning, including Friday's 7-6 loss when they raced to a 6-0 lead and led 6-2 with two outs in the eighth.
David Price pitched that night against Chris Capuano. It was the lone pitching matchup that favored the Rays during their first trip to Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw held the Rays hitless through four innings. Yunel Escobar ended the no-hitter with a single to start the fifth, and Sam Fuld ended the shutout bid with a triple.
The Rays' other run came in the eighth when all they got out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation against Kershaw was a sacrifice fly to left by Myers that scored Jose Lobaton.
Maddon loaded his lineup with right-handers and even batted Hellickson eighth, a move that was designed at protecting Myers in the lineup. Maddon moved Myers up to second, ahead of Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist.
It made little difference against Kershaw and the Dodgers, who have won 20 of 23 games since the All-Star break.
The Rays were once that hot. Now they are not.
“Very frustrating,” Hellickson said of the trip. “I took two of the losses on the road trip. It's just something we have to bounce back from. I know we've done it before. We're still right there as bad as this road trip was. We have to keep grinding. We're fine.”