Kershaw helps Dodgers blank Cubs 1-0 in NLCS Game 2
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 17, 2016 02:40 PM
In this picture taken with a slow shutter speed, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws during the fourth inning of Game 2 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)CHICAGO (AP) — Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw pitched seven sparkling innings to steer the Dodgers to a 1-0 road win against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, squaring the National League Championship Series at a game apiece.
Kershaw retired his first 14 batters, striking out six and walking only one in a performance that fully answered the charge that he does not produce his best in playoff games.
The sole run of the game came from an Adrian Gonzalez homer.
The Dodgers needed a clutch pitching performance after their heartbreaking 8-4 loss in the series opener, and their ace left-hander Kershaw stepped up.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner struck out six and walked one while throwing just 84 pitches in a brisk outing that could help when he returns later in the NLCS.
"It was one of those games where one pitch could have been the deciding factor," Kershaw said. "Just kind of kept going through it and fortunate to get through it tonight."
Kenley Jansen then struck out four in two perfect innings for his third save of the playoffs. The teams combined for just five hits for the lowest total in a playoff game since 2013.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Roberts almost went to Jansen with a runner on first and two out in the seventh, but Kershaw argued successfully to stay in the game. Javier Baez then hit a drive to the warning track in deep center, but Joc Pederson was there for the catch.
"After Dave came out and that, I kind of talked my way into it. I really wanted to — he was probably not going to trust me again after that, but, fortunately, he hit it at somebody," Kershaw said.
Game 3 is Tuesday in Los Angeles. Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta, who pitched a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium last August, faces left-hander Rich Hill.
Chicago, trying for its first pennant in 71 years, wasted a solid start by major league ERA leader Kyle Hendricks.
His only mistake was a second-inning fastball that Gonzalez drove over the wall in left-center for his second homer of the playoffs.
"He (Kershaw) kept the ball off the fat part of our bat," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "He threw strikes like he normally does. So despite not having rest, his command and velocity were still good."
Slumping Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo just missed a home run with a foul drive in the fourth, and then bounced out. Javier Baez and Willson Contreras hit consecutive two-out singles in the fifth for Chicago's first baserunners, but Jason Heyward fouled out to third.
"I honestly thought with him pitching with a couple of days' rest, he wasn't going to be that nasty," Baez said, "but obviously he came ready for us and he just did his job."
Jansen backed Kershaw with flawless relief. The big right-hander struck out Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant before Rizzo lined meekly to second for the final out.