Clayton Kershaw finally got the monkey off his back with seven strong innings on short rest, leading the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory over the Mets in Game 4 of their National League Division Series on Tuesday night at Citi Field, pulling the Dodgers even in the series and forcing a deciding Game 5 on Thursday.
Kershaw struck out eight in his seven frames, allowing just a single run. After allowing 11 total runs in his last three postseason starts, Kershaw conquered those seventh-inning demons with an eight-pitch inning, working around an infield single to open the inning.
The win snapped a personal five-game losing streak in the postseason for Kershaw, who now has a 1.89 in three playoff starts on three days rest in the last three seasons.
Kershaw got the Dodgers' rally started in the third inning with a one-out single. Howie Kendrick followed with a two-out single, then Adrian Gonzalez dropped a bloop into shallow center field for a 1-0 lead. Justin Turner followed with a double into the left field corner to score both Kendrick and Gonzalez for a 3-0 advantage.
Turner is hitting .467 (7-for-15) with four doubles against his old team in the series, matching Hanley Ramirez (2013 NLDS) for the most doubles by a Dodger in a postseason series. Turner exited in the eighth in a double switch, the only time in four games this series that he didn't have two hits. But he did walk in addition to the double.
Chris Hatcher got the first two outs of the eighth inning, then walked Curtis Granderson, which sent the call for Kenley Jansen to face David Wright, who drew a walk after a long battle, including a foul-tip into the glove of A.J. Ellis and in the strike zone that was called a ball, much to the chagrin of Ellis, who was walking away from the plate thinking the inning was over.
Jansen needed 14 pitches to get that final out of the eighth, then 10 more to finish the ninth. But he got it done, and the Dodgers are tied in the series.
The first hit allowed by Kershaw was to Daniel Murphy, who hit a solo home run to right field in the fourth inning, cutting the Dodgers' lead to 3-1. It was the second home run of the series for Murphy against Kershaw, after Murphy on the season hit just .254/.284/.349 with one home run in 134 plate appearances against southpaws.
Murphy is one of only six left-handed hitters with at least two career home runs against Kershaw, joining Adam Dunn, Brad Hawpe, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez. Dunn, with four home runs, is the only one in the group with more than two.
Ellis singled in the fourth inning, extending his postseason hitting streak to 12 games, setting a new Dodgers franchise record. During his streak, which dates back to Game 1 of the 2013 NLCS, Ellis is hitting .385 (15-for-39) with six extra-base hits and five walks (.455 OBP).
Another game! The Dodgers return home for a winner-take-all Game 5, with Zack Greinke on the mound on Thursday night for the Dodgers. Game 1 starter Jacob deGrom goes for the Mets, giving us a Dodger Stadium rematch of their July 26 matchup at Citi Field.
Game 4 particulars
Home run: Daniel Murphy (2)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (1-1): 7 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
LP - Steven Matz (0-1): 5 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (2): 1⅓ IP, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts