Ker­shaw strug­gles as Dodgers fall in opener

Dodger ace hit hard in 6-5 loss to Brewers

Lethbridge Herald - - HERALD SPORTS TOP STORIES - Jay Co­hen

Clay­ton Ker­shaw pounded his glove over and over, yelling “Let’s go!” as he walked off the mound. Pretty soon, he was gone. Ker­shaw was hit hard in the short­est start of his spotty play­off ca­reer, and the shaky Los An­ge­les Dodgers lost 6-5 to the Mil­wau­kee Brewers in Game 1 of the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries on Fri­day night.

“Got to do a bet­ter of keep­ing the score close for our guys to have a chance there at the end,” Ker­shaw said.

Los An­ge­les com­mit­ted four er­rors, in­clud­ing two by catcher Yas­mani Gran­dal in Mil­wau­kee’s two-run third in­ning. But an­other play­off flop for its ace left-han­der might be its big­gest con­cern as it tries to cool off streak­ing Mil­wau­kee.

“We gave up too many bases. We didn’t play clean when he was in the game,” man­ager Dave Roberts said. “The er­rors af­fected the game. But as far as Clay­ton, I just think it was poor ex­e­cu­tion. And I thought the stuff was good, but he just made mis­takes in the strike zone and de­fen­sively, again, we didn’t do him any favours.”

Game 2 is this af­ter­noon at Miller Park.

Ker­shaw holds the team records for play­off wins (eight), starts (21), in­nings (133) and strike­outs (144), but is just 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA in 26 ca­reer post-sea­son ap­pear­ances. The Dodgers dropped to 13-13 when the three-time NL Cy Young Award win­ner takes the mound in the play­offs.

The 30-year-old Ker­shaw qui­eted some of those Oc­to­ber ques­tions when the Dodgers won the NL pen­nant last year for the first time since 1988, go­ing 3-0 with a 3.82 ERA in six ap­pear­ances. He pitched six sparkling in­nings in the NLCS­clinch­ing vic­tory at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, and worked four score­less in­nings in re­lief in Los An­ge­les’ Game 7 loss to Hous­ton in the World Se­ries.

Af­ter he was passed over for Los An­ge­les’ Game 1 start in the NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries this year, the 2014 NL MVP re­sponded with eight in­nings of two-hit ball in a 3-0 vic­tory over At­lanta.

The vic­tory against the Baby Braves was one of his best play­off per­for­mances. The loss against the Brewers was one of his worst.

“It was a tough one,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously you don’t want to get your team off to that start.”

The night started to get away from Ker­shaw and the Dodgers when Bran­don Woodruff led off the third in­ning with a mas­sive drive to right­cen­tre, be­com­ing the third re­liever in ma­jor league his­tory to homer in a post-sea­son game.

Ker­shaw glanced back with an in­cred­u­lous look as Woodruff’s ball soared over the wall, ty­ing it at 1 and send­ing a charge through the sell­out crowd of 43,615.

“I knew he could swing the bat a lit­tle bit, for sure,” Ker­shaw said. “I didn’t know he could do that, but I knew he could hit a lit­tle bit.”

A passed ball and an in­ter­fer­ence call on Gran­dal helped set up Her­nan Perez’s sac­ri­fice fly. Ker­shaw min­i­mized the dam­age by strik­ing out Mike Mous­takas, strand­ing two run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion and lead­ing to his emo­tional dis­play as he headed to­ward the du­gout.

What­ever he was try­ing to do, it didn’t work.

Los An­ge­les went down in or­der in the fourth and Mil­wau­kee’s first three bat­ters reached in the bot­tom half, chas­ing Ker­shaw and pro­duc­ing two more runs on Domingo San­tana’s pinch-hit sin­gle. San­tana swiped sec­ond and scored on Ryan Braun’s two-out sin­gle against Ryan Mad­son.

Braun’s clutch swing closed the book on Ker­shaw, who was charged with five runs, four earned, and six hits. He dropped to 2-5 with a 5.24 ERA in 11 ca­reer NLCS games.

Ker­shaw’s short­est play­off start be­fore the loss to Mil­wau­kee was four-plus in­nings in a 9-0 loss at St. Louis in Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS, end­ing Los An­ge­les’ sea­son.

As­so­ci­ated Press photo

Los An­ge­les Dodgers start­ing pitcher Clay­ton Ker­shaw (22) throws dur­ing the first in­ning of Game 1 of the Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries against the Mil­wau­kee Brewers, Fri­day, in Mil­wau­kee.

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