The Cardinals thought they were merely taking a two-city, five-day road trip to California. Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, their season may have flashed before their eyes.

For the third time on the trip, the first-place club watched a player crumble, forcing it to once again scramble to address a piece subtracted from its core.

En route to a lock down administered by reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, the Cardinals had to carry first baseman Lance Berkman from the field after he suffered a right knee injury on a routine-looking play to end the second inning.

The Cardinals' only good news came from starting pitcher Jake Westbrook, who threw 6 1/3 laudable innings. His reward was an experience so frustrating that he sprinted from the mound, leapt down the dugout steps and didn't stop to accept acknowledgement from teammates before continuing on to the clubhouse.

"You get irritated. You try to control all that," Westbrook said. "The bottom line is I didn't do what I needed to do in the seventh inning to keep it close. That's what's frustrating."

The Dodgers parlayed the mess into a 6-0 win before an announced crowd of 39,383 that celebrated their league-best record. The Cardinals were left to ponder their seventh loss in nine games, an eroding lead over the Cincinnati Reds and what pratfall might be lurking next.