Milwaukee tops Los Angeles to claim Game 1
Woodruff becomes third reliever to hit a home run in postseason history
MILWAUKEE — So they can hit, too.
Reliever Brandon Woodruff stunned ace Clayton Kershaw with an early home run and Milwaukee’s normally shutdown bullpen held on — barely — as the Brewers beat the sloppy Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 Friday night in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.
Hard-throwing Josh Hader and the Brewers earned their 12th straight win, one shy of the franchise record set to open the 1987 season.
The Dodgers scored three times in the eighth to make it 6-4, then nearly tied it in the ninth. Chris Taylor hit an RBI triple off center fielder Lorenzo Cain’s glove with two outs before Corey Knebel fanned Justin Turner to end it.
Kershaw was chased before he could retire a batter in the fourth inning. Manny Machado homered and drove in three runs for Los Angeles. The Dodgers committed four errors, including two by catcher Yasmani Grandal, who also had two passed balls.
Game 2 is Saturday at Miller Park, with Wade Miley pitching for the Brewers against Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell’s pitching-bycommittee strategy continued to be a hit, at least until the late innings.
Knebel restored order by striking out Turner. Woodruff picked up the win and helped himself at the plate.
After starter Gio Gonzalez went two innings, nicked by Machado’s home run, Woodruff entered in the top of the third. In the bottom half, Woodruff made a sudden impact — with his bat. Woodruff became just the third relief pitcher to homer in the postseason, tagging a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner for a tying solo drive. Woodruff pumped both arms as he rounded first, while Kershaw turned away and looked down.
“I’ve never seen Brandon like that,” Counsell said. “To make it the first run your team scores in the NLCS and a homer off Clayton Kershaw, that’s how you should run around the bases. That’s exactly how you should run around the bases. The thing is is it just fired everybody up. The crowd went crazy. And our dugout, it certainly changed the energy in our dugout from what you think is going to be kind of a grinded-out game against Clayton. And then when that happens, it gives everybody life.”
Another miserable October night was just beginning for Kershaw, whose regularseason brilliance has often disappeared in the postseason. And it wasn’t even Christian Yelich and the Brewers’ stars who got to him. Hernan Perez hit a sacrifice fly later in the third, and pinch-hitter Domingo Santana had a two-run single in the fourth.
It was the shortest postseason start of Kershaw’s career. He had a 4.65 ERA in 10 career appearances, including seven starts, going into Friday.
Jesus Aguilar added a solo home run in the seventh for the Brewers.
Righthander Brandon Woodruff, who has been used as both a starter and a reliever for the Brewers, celebrates following his home run off Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw. Woodruff also was credited with the victory.