Brewers hold on to take Game 1 of NLCS
MILWAUKEE — The high-five at the plate from Brandon Woodruff nearly took out Lorenzo Cain.
It’s not often that a reliever hits a home run.
Batting left-handed. Off lefty Clayton Kershaw. In the playoffs.
Woodruff stunned the ace 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 on Friday in Game 1 of the National League 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.
Woodruff, of all people, had the momentum-swinging hit.
“It’s something obviously coming into the day, you don’t know in your wildest dreams that’s going to happen,” he said.
It was the first time in postseason history that a pitcher homered in a lefty vs. lefty matchup. Woodruff was understandably pumped as he rounded the bases.
“He was fired up when he came home. He nearly broke my arm,” Cain said.
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 Cain’s glove in deep center field with two outs before Corey Knebel fanned Justin Turner to end it.
Game 2 is today at Miller Park, with Wade Miley pitching for the Brewers against Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The Dodgers did some damage against the Brewers’ bullpen. Milwaukee used seven pitchers, including three scoreless innings from Hader. Woodruff threw two perfect innings and got the win.
“But for us to get a look at these guys out of the pen in a seven-game series, I think that’s a good thing,” manager Dave Roberts said.
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.
Kershaw was chased before he could retire a batter in the fourth inning. It was the shortest start of his postseason career, which has been much less stellar than his regular-season brilliance. He allowed six hits and five runs, four earned.
“Got to do a better job of keeping the score close for our guys to have a chance there at the end,” Kershaw said.
The Brewers’ Brandon Woodruff celebrates as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the third inning Friday.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw walks after being removed from the game during the fourth inning Friday.