Brewers knock out Ker­shaw, hold off Dodgers’ rally to win Game 1

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Andy McCul­lough

MIL­WAU­KEE — The post­sea­son ca­reer of Clay­ton Ker­shaw con­sists of peaks and val­leys, an ag­o­niz­ing au­tum­nal rit­ual. He can dom­i­nate and he can wilt — ex­cel­lence in one game fol­lowed by vul­ner­a­bil­ity in the next. As the years pass, the heights feel less lofty, a mere respite be­fore the in­evitable tum­ble. The cy­cle re­peated it­self in Game 1 of the Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, as the Mil­wau­kee Brewers hounded Ker­shaw in a 65 Los An­ge­les Dodgers de­feat.

Ker­shaw was far from the only Dodger to dis­ap­point Fri­day evening at Miller Park. But he rep­re­sents the tip of the or­ga­ni­za­tional spear. The Brewers broke him early and with­stood a late flurry on the first night of this se­ries.

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

It was the briefest start of Ker­shaw’s ca­reer in the play­offs, a fiverun, nine-out mis­ery. Mil­wau­kee proved to be a more for­mi­da­ble foe than the At­lanta Braves, whom Ker­shaw had blanked for eight in­nings in the NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries. That out­ing marked the peak. Fri­day was the val­ley, as Ker­shaw crum­bled be­neath the weight of the Brewers bats and the de­fen­sive in­com­pe­tence of his team­mates.

Ear­lier in the sum­mer, as Ker­shaw ap­proached free agency and nav­i­gated around his di­min­ish­ing ve­loc­ity, he tin­kered with the se­quences and lo­ca­tions of his pitches. His re­solve has not faded, in this, his 10th sea­son as a Dodger, but his fast­ball has. Mil­wau­kee demon­strated the lim­its of his rein­ven­tion.

The out­ing was short, yet pocked with in­dig­ni­ties. Ker­shaw per­mit­ted a home run to re­lief pitcher Bran­don Woodruff. He howled in frus­tra­tion as hits landed be­hind him and two passed balls got by Yas­mani Gran­dal. The de­fense made four er­rors on the evening. Ker­shaw was forced to hand the base­ball to man­ager Dave Roberts far sooner than ei­ther man de­sired.

“I just think it was poor ex­e­cu­tion,” Roberts said. “I thought the stuff was good. But he made mis­takes in the

strike zone, and de­fen­sively, we didn’t do him any fa­vors.”

The dev­as­ta­tion was height­ened as the game pro­gressed. Af­ter Julio Urias yielded a solo homer in the sev­enth, the Dodgers staged a fu­ri­ous late-game rally, plat­ing three runs in the eighth and an­other in the ninth on a two-out triple from Chris Tay­lor. The game ended with Tay­lor at third base, when Justin Turner struck out against Brewers re­liever Corey Knebel.

Manny Machado drove in three runs as the Dodgers forced Mil­wau­kee to ex­pend their elite re­liev­ers. Brewers man­ager Craig Coun­sell cap­i­tal­ized on in­ef­fi­cien­cies in the Dodgers lineup by un­leash­ing left-handed re­lief ace Josh Hader for three in­nings. Hader logged a ca­reer-high 46 pitches, and is un­likely to pitch again un­til Game 3. Knebel and Jeremy Jef­fress wob­bled. The Dodgers lost the bat­tle, but the se­ries still may last seven games.

The Mil­wau­kee bullpen pre­sented a lo­gis­ti­cal night­mare for Roberts. The Brewers started left-handed pitcher Gio Gon­za­lez, but Roberts won­dered how long the starter would last. Roberts knew he had to be care­ful when in­sert­ing pinch hit­ters, be­cause he did not want to shorten his bench for late-game sce­nar­ios when fac­ing Mil­wau­kee’s bullpen trio of Hader, Jef­fress and Knebel.

“It’s go­ing to be a tricky one,” Roberts said be­fore the game.

Ker­shaw was mak­ing the 21st start of his post­sea­son ca­reer. His 20th had been a tri­umph. He was still stung by the team’s de­ci­sion to start him against At­lanta in Game 2, rather than Game 1, and he felt val­i­da­tion af­ter bull­doz­ing the Braves. He only struck out three, but missed enough bar­rels to roll through in­nings. The Brewers would not suc­cumb to a sim­i­lar fate.

ROBERT GAU­THIER/TRI­BUNE NEWS SER­VICE

The Mil­wau­kee Brewers' Lorenzo Cain (6) scores on a Manny Pina sac­ri­fice fly as Los An­ge­les Dodgers catcher Yas­mani Gran­dal misses the throw from the out­field dur­ing Game 1 of the Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries in Mil­wau­kee on Fri­day.

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