PHILADELPHIA -- There seemed to be few explanations for what happened on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies opened an 11-game homestand with a 2-0 loss to the Dodgers, but credit Clayton Kershaw for some of that. He is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and one of the last pitchers a struggling team like the Phillies wants to see at the beginning of a homestand that could either get them rolling in the right direction or continue their slide below .500.
Kershaw allowed two hits, three walks and struck out nine in six scoreless innings as the Phillies have been shut out four times in their last eight games at home and six times overall this season.
"Can you [explain it]?" Marlon Byrd said about the team's offensive struggles at home. "If you can explain it, please tell me."
But it wasn't just Kershaw.
It was the Phillies' offense, which went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
It was the fundamentals, which manager Ryne Sandberg has stressed since the beginning of Spring Training but which continue to be an issue.
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Dee Gordon singled to right, stole second and third and scored on Yasiel Puig's single to left field. They took a 2-0 lead in the second when Carl Crawford homered against Roberto Hernandez, who settled down and fired 6 1/3 solid innings in the loss.
Two runs would be plenty for Kershaw.
Sandberg loaded his lineup with right-handed hitters against the lefty, but Kershaw retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before a 43-minute rain delay in the top of the fourth inning.
Kershaw remained in the game, but walked Carlos Ruiz and allowed Chase Utley's 20th double of the season to put runners on second and third with none out in the fourth. The Phillies needed somebody to make contact, maybe hit a ball into the outfield, to score at least one run.
But Byrd, Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf each struck out swinging on Kershaw sliders to end the inning.
"It wasn't the pitch, it was the location," Byrd said. "He has that 94-mph fastball. He throws the slider at 88. He starts it at your knees, a little bit higher maybe. Then it drops out of the zone. That's when you start tipping your cap."
The Phillies repeated themselves in the sixth. They had runners on first and second with none out -- Jimmy Rollins' leadoff double put him 16 hits away from passing Mike Schmidt on the franchise's all-time hits list -- but Utley flied out to right, Byrd fouled out to first and Howard struck out looking to end the inning.
But the Phillies had their best scoring opportunity with Kershaw gone. They had the bases loaded with no outs against the Dodgers' bullpen in the seventh, when left-hander J.P. Howell got pinch-hitter Domonic Brown to hit a sinking line drive to Crawford for the first out.
Ben Revere, who led off with a pinch-hit single, inexplicably did not tag up from third base on the play, although Sandberg said he had no problem with Revere's baserunning and Revere said he was running all the way.
"There was no outs, I was going no matter what," Revere said. "The ball just kind of stayed up in the air. I thought it was going to land and he made the catch, with no outs. With one out, I usually go back and tag, but, nah, I thought that ball was going to be down for sure off the bat."
"You know what? From my angle, that's a tough call," Sandberg said. "It looked like a sure base hit, it was so shallow. I was surprised he made a catch on that. That was a tough call. I don't know if it's a shoestring catch, if he scores or not, if he does catch the ball. Definitely a big play though."
Rollins hit into a fielder's choice and Ruiz flied out to end the inning.
Sandberg made improved fundamentals his mantra before the season started, but when asked to assess the results of that work on Friday, he chose to revisit the Revere play and the overall game.
"I think once again, that play right there is a tough call," Sandberg said. "If he's playing that shallow, or if he traps it, a shoestring non-catch, he's got to be able to score there. Other than that, the guys battled. Pitching was outstanding tonight. Like I said, we did have three opportunities with two men on and no outs."
The Phillies will try to bounce back on Saturday to avoid falling six games below .500 for the first time this season.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.