The Dodgers have received plenty of compliments this season while compiling the best record in Major League Baseball.

Some are slightly backhanded, like how they keep winning in spite of the lackluster look of their lineup.

Fortunately in baseball there's a stat to explain everything. For the Dodgers - decimated by injuries to their hitters, bolstered by anonymous heroes - here it is: Before Friday's game against the Houston Astros, they were hitting .275 with runners in scoring position. Overall, they were batting .270.

Their on-base average jumps from .341 to .371 with runners on second and third, and suddenly there's some context for the recent game-winning RBIs by Scott Van Slyke and Ivan De Jesus. For the 2012 Dodgers, clutch hitting is contagious.

That, and strong starting pitching, has been enough on most nights this season. Friday was an exception.

The Dodgers lost to the Houston Astros 3-1 before an announced crowd of 36,283 at Dodger Stadium.

Clayton Kershaw's pitching line was deceptively good: Seven innings pitched, five hits, three runs, two earned runs, three walks, six strikeouts. On the surface, it was a perfectly appropriate start to commemorate the fourth anniversary of his major-league debut.

All five Astros hits, however, went for extra bases. Four were doubles; the other was a third-inning home run by J.D. Martinez that gave Houston a 3-0 lead.