Brewers hang on to beat Dodgers in NLCS opener
Los Angeles rallies late, but Milwaukee prevails 6-5
MILWAUKEE — Reliever Brandon Woodruff stunned ace Clayton Kershaw with a solo home run and the normally shutdown Milwaukee bullpen barely held on as the Brewers beat the sloppy Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 on 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 centre fielder Lorenzo Cain’s glove with two outs before Corey Knebel fanned Justin Turner to end it.
Kershaw was chased before he could retire 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 today (1 p.m. PT) at Miller Park, with Wade Miley pitching for the Brewers against Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Kershaw was hit hard in the shortest start of his spotty playoff career.
“Got to do a better job of keeping the score close for our guys to have a chance there at the end,” Kershaw said afterwards.
“It was a tough one,” he added. “You don’t want to get your team off to that start.”
Kershaw holds the Dodgers’ 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 NLCS-clinching victory at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, and worked four scoreless innings in relief in a Game 7 loss to Houston in the World Series.
“He’s been in the playoffs for a really long time,” Grandal said. “He knows what he needs to do to win games and that’s all that matters. Game 5 comes around, then he’ll be the guy on the mound and he’ll be the guy who will get us a win.”
Milwaukee Brewers’ Orlando Arcia watches the flight of the ball after hitting a double as Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) reacts during the fourth inning of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Friday in Milwaukee.