LOS ANGELES -- A quick and dirty, completely unscientific, and totally simplistic summary of the first two games of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Mets is that he who pitches the longest, wins.
That made a winner on Saturday night in Game 2 out of Zack Greinke, who came through yet again when the Dodgers needed it most.
Greinke struck out eight in his seven innings and walked none, allowing two runs. It was the 27th time in 33 starts in 2015 that Greinke allowed two or fewer runs. But when he walked off the mound after the top of the seventh, he trailed 2-1, thanks to solo home runs by Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto in the second inning.
The Mets were jumping on Greinke's fastball early, but after the Conforto home run Greinke retired 14 of his final 16 batters, with both singles during that span erased on double plays.
"I threw more off speed than normal because they were hitting my fastball, so I was trying out something else, and the off speed was working," Greinke said.
But still, walking off the mound, the Dodgers were nine outs from facing a 2-0 series hole, which meant a very real possibility that Game 2 could have been Greinke's final start as a Dodger. The right-hander is under contract for three more seasons and $71 million, a completely below-market value for a pitcher at his level, and he can opt out into free agency within three days after ends.
But Greinke said his pending decision didn't come into his mind on Saturday.
"When you're out there you're not thinking about those things. I mean, maybe in a regular season game when your team's not going to make the playoffs, you might think that," Greinke said. "But a playoff game you're just trying to win the game and not thinking about other things like that."
Greinke was focused on the job at hand, and as someone who two seasons ago broke his collarbone in an on-field brawl, didn't have much to offer about the Chase Utley slide.
"I'm sorry. I don't really want to talk about it," Greinke said. "I try to just not get involved in confrontation anymore."
Fortunes did turn for the Dodgers, who rallied for four runs in the seventh inning to not only win the game, but make a winner out of Greinke, who was able to squeeze another inning after 101 pitches in six innings, the 33rd straight time he lasted at least six frames.
He retired the side in order in the seventh inning on nine pitches, reaching seven innings for a 22nd time in 33 starts this season.
"Zack felt good, and that was the thing. I think he still felt strong," manager Don Mattingly said. "He felt like he could execute, and at that point there is really nobody that we have that we're going to bring in that's going to be better than that."
Greinke since joining the Dodgers in 2013 has made five postseason starts. He has lasted at least six innings in all of them, totaling 35 innings, with 32 strikeouts and four walks, and has never allowed more than two runs in a start.
His five-start postseason streak of allowing two or fewer runs matches Don Sutton (1974-77) and Burt Hooton (1981) for the second-longest in Dodgers history, behind only the six straight by Sandy Koufax from 1959-65.
Greinke's 2.06 postseason ERA with Los Angeles is the fifth-best in Dodgers history among pitchers with a minimum 30 innings.
Whether he gets to add to his Dodgers legacy remains to be seen, but Greinke's three-year body of work in Los Angeles has been nothing short of fantastic.