Clayton Kershaw Bears Down To Help Dodgers Force Game 5 Against Mets
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the Los Angeles Dodgers needing a win to avoid being eliminated in the National League Division Series for a second consecutive year, they turned to their ace on short rest, and Clayton Kershaw answered the bell.

To the Dodgers’ credit, they stuck to the blueprint of providing early run support, rather than playing from behind. And unlike Game 3, the offense’s work wasn’t squandered. The scoring began on a two-out rally in the third inning, with the Dodgers taking a 1-0 lead on Adrian Gonzalez’s bloop single to center field.

Steven Matz then became the latest New York Mets pitcher unable to solve Justin Turner, as the Dodgers’ third baseman pulled a two-run double down the left field line. Kershaw gave the Mets a run back in the fourth, as Daniel Murphy hit his second solo homer of the series off the Dodgers’ ace.

Kershaw was otherwise sharp throughout the night, making it easy to forget he was going on three days’ rest. He struck out six consecutive batters across the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, and finished the game with eight punchouts to only one walk, and never letting a runner advance past first base.

As for the seventh inning that’s been the root of Kershaw’s demise, it began with a Yoenis Cespedes infield single — certainly leading to “here we go again” thoughts — but ended as a scoreless frame for Kershaw, with Turner making a nice stop on a sharp grounder for the third out. The Dodgers’ 3-1 lead remained intact.

Chris Hatcher issued a two-out walk in the eighth, and was promptly replaced by Kenley Jansen. Curtis Granderson stole second base without drawing a throw, though it didn’t make much of a difference as Jansen walked David Wright.

Jansen eventually got Lucas Dida to fly out, and returned to the mound in the ninth to close out the game. With the win, the Dodgers forced a winner-take-all Game 5, set for Thursday at Dodger Stadium. First pitched is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. PT with Zack Greinke and Jacob deGrom the pitching probables.