He handcuffed the Rockies over seven-plus innings despite not having his best stuff and swung a pretty mean bat, hitting a two-run double and helping spark a three-run rally with a sacrifice bunt.
Kershaw stood to get his sixth win until Todd Helton hit a two-run homer in the ninth off closer Brandon League (1-2), who ended up with the win when the Dodgers answered with a two-run 10th off Rafael Betancourt for a 7-5 victory Friday night.
"It would be easy to lay down there," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "The boys kind of bounced right back up."
Helton fouled off five straight two-strike pitches before sending a 93 mph sinker into the second deck in right field to tie it with his fourth homer overall and his second pinch homer of the season.
In the top of the 10th, pinch runner Carl Crawford scored from third on Luis Cruz's hard comebacker that bounced off the left heel of Betancourt (1-3) and dribbled toward the third base side, and Juan Uribe followed with a run-scoring single.
Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect 10th for his first save since Aug. 29, 2012, also at Colorado.
"You get punched in the gut when you compete and you play tight games," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We've played a lot of tight games this year and sometimes the reward for competing like that is getting punched in the gut. I like the way our guys fought back against a really good pitcher."
Kershaw allowed three earned runs on eight hits over seven-plus innings. He hurt the Rockies at the plate, too, with a two-run double in the fourth, a sacrifice bunt during the Dodgers' three-run third inning and a single.
But he couldn't make a 5-0 lead hold up.
"I didn't have a whole lot tonight to be honest. My fastball wasn't very good, command wasn't great. Just had to fight my way through it tonight," Kershaw said. "Those (early) runs really helped a lot. I was able to just pound the strike zone. We got the win so it was good."
Even with the win, the Dodgers were glad to see the calendar flip to June after going 10-17 in May for the lowest May winning percentage (.370) in club history.
The Rockies went 12-16 in May and skidded into June.
After losing three of four to the lowly Houston Astros, they sorely needed a solid start from right-hander Jon Garland (3-7) but they didn't get it in losing for the sixth time in seven games. Garland, whose spot in the rotation is in question with Roy Oswalt tuning up in Double-A Tulsa for a possible promotion soon, gave up five earned runs on seven hits over five innings.
"I'm not going to talk about the future or hypotheticals," Weiss said -- and a team spokesman later admonished reporters for asking the manager about Garland's tenuous spot in the rotation and about the health of Betancourt, who recently injured a groin.
Weiss said the two-run double by Kershaw hurt, but he suggested Garland was the victim of some tough luck with several seeing-eye groundballs in the third.
Garland said he didn't feel unlucky.
"Right now I feel like I'm just bad, to be honest with you," Garland said.
CarGo pinch hit in the seventh with one out and two men on following a walk to Nolan Arenado and a double by DJ LeMahieu, but Kershaw struck him out on slider. Eric Young Jr., who started in left field for Gonzalez, then bounced out to short to end the threat.
The Rockies chased Kershaw with back-to-back singles by Fowler and Troy Tulowitzki with nobody out in the eighth. Right-hander Kenley Jansen plunked Michael Cuddyer with a 1-2 fastball to load the bases, but got Wilin Rosario to ground into a double play, with Fowler scoring, and then induced a groundball out from Jordan Pacheco.
"Kershaw was battling all day," Mattingly said. "I don't think he felt like he had his good stuff today, but he kind of stayed with it. I probably shouldn't have sent him out there for the eighth but it's hard not to send him back out there. Looking back, I probably shouldn't have done that."
League then blew his third save in 14 chances.
Young's weak throw back to the infield helped Cruz score all the way from first base on Uribe's double in the Dodgers' three-run third inning. Mark Ellis and Adrian Gonzalez also knocked in runs that inning.
Kershaw's double into the left-field gap made it 5-0 in the fourth.
"Curveball up and he's a good athlete," Garland said. "He's a good hitter. I've watched him take batting practice many of times. So I know what he can do."
The Rockies got both runs back in the bottom half on Cuddyer's RBI single and Rosario's run-scoring groundout.
- Cruz was plunked on his right hand by a pitch from Garland in the third but stayed in the game.
- This was Garland's first appearance against the Dodgers since July 27, 2010, when he was with the Padres.
- The Rockies are 5-0-1 against L.A. over the last six series with the Dodgers at Coors Field.
- Zack Greinke (2-1) faces Jhoulys Chacin (3-3) on Saturday.