Milwaukee wins at home
L.A.’s Kershaw gets roughed up while Brewers build lead
MILWAUKEE — Clayton Kershaw pounded his glove with his left hand and yelled, “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 sloppy Los Angeles Dodgers lost 6-5 to the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Friday night.
Los Angeles committed four errors, including two by catcher Yasmani Grandal in Milwaukee's two-run third. But another playoff flop for its ace left-hander might be its biggest concern as it tries to cool off streaking Milwaukee.
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 postseason 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 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.
The night started to get away from Kershaw and the Dodgers when reliever Brandon Woodruff led off the third inning with a massive drive to right-center, becoming the third reliever in major league history to homer in a postseason 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.
A passed ball and an interference call on Grandal helped set up Hernan Perez's sacrifice fly before 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.
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.
Manny Machado homered and drove in three runs for Los Angeles.
Today Wade Miley will pitch for the Brewers against Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in four career postseason starts.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell's pitchingby-committee strategy continued to be a hit, at least until the late innings.
Finally, the hard-throwing Knebel restored order by striking out Turner. Knebel walked Joc Pederson with two outs before Taylor's long drive.
Early in the game another miserable October night was just beginning for Kershaw, whose regular-season 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 for a 4-1 lead that chased Kershaw from the mound with nobody out.
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.
That ERA went up after allowing six hits and five runs — four earned — in three-plus innings.
Jesus Aguilar added a solo home run in the seventh for the Brewers, his second of the postseason. Cain went 3 for 5 and scored a run.
Their late-season run has earned Brewers fans a free burger at an area restaurant chain.
George Webb Restaurants has a long-standing promotion to give away a free burger whenever the Brewers win 12 straight.
It's time to dine after a dozen. George Webb planned to announce the giveaway date and time after the game.
Following Sunday’s travel day, the series moves to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Tuesday, with a Game (if necessary) scheduled for Wednesday.