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NLCS notes: Close call at the plate, Game 5 starter(s)

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MLB: NLCS-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Manager Dave Roberts after the Dodgers’ Game 4 loss was asked one more time who his Game 5 starter would be, and for the umpteenth time reiterated that Kenta Maeda will start for the Dodgers on Thursday against the Cubs.

“It’s going to be Kenta,” Roberts said. “Kenta’s pitched in a ton of big baseball games in his career, so we expect him to go out there and get outs.”

Though Roberts did reveal a little more about the decision, namely that Clayton Kershaw probably would have started if the Dodgers trailed 3-1 in the series.

“Tomorrow isn’t a deciding game. It’s not an elimination game,” Roberts said. “I think the accumulation of his usage over the last 10 days plays a factor in our decision.

“[Kershaw has] done what he’s always done in saying that he’ll do whatever we ask of him.”

Close call

The Dodgers still had a second-inning call on their mind after the 10-2 loss. Adrian Gonzalez was thrown out at the plate on a single to right field, and though replays appeared to show Gonzalez got his hand on the plate before he was tagged, the out call was upheld on replay, with not enough evidence to overturn.

“I was pretty certain that it was going to get reversed,” Roberts said. “You look back tonight and some plays shifted the momentum. To get a lead would have been big for us, and I thought we put ourselves in a position to get to Lackey.”

Rare relief

Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery picked up the win by throwing scoreless baseball in the fifth and sixth innings. He also singled in the five-run sixth for Chicago, joining select company.

Montgomery is just the third relief pitcher in League Championship Series history to pick up a win and get a hit in the same game, per the Elias Sports Bureau, joining Mets pitcher Nolan Ryan in Game 3 of the 1969 NLCS and Orioles hurler Dick all in Game 1 of the 1970 ALCS.

Up next

Maeda will in Game 5, opposed by left-hander Jon Lester in a rematch of Game 1. Thursday night’s game is another 5:08 p.m. PT start, with Dodger Stadium gates open at 2 p.m.

With the left-handed Lester on the mound, Roberts said Yasiel Puig, Kiké Hernandez and Howie Kendrick will start Game 5, as they did Game 1. The catching spot is still undecided. Carlos Ruiz started Game 1, and Yasmani Grandal has started the Dodgers’ other eight playoff games.

“What Carlos does for us in the batter’s box and behind the plate, working with pitchers is oustanding,” Roberts said. “Also, the value of plugging him in somewhere to match against their left-handers is huge value for us as well.”

Steve Garvey and Eric Karros will throw out ceremonial first pitches before Game 5.