LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw picked up his first career home playoff win in most bizarre fashion on Friday night, in the Dodgers’ 9-5 win over the Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium.
Staked to a 7-1 lead, Kershaw allowed a solo home run in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh, tying an MLB record with four home runs allowed in a postseason game.
Up 7-2 through six innings, Kershaw was at 92 pitches, with the bottom of the order (6-7-8) due up for Arizona. Kershaw, who made his last start of the regular season on Saturday, was pitching on five days rest, and since he won’t be starting a potential Game 4 of this series — manager Dave Roberts reiterated that after Friday’s Game 1 — his next start would be on at least five days rest.
That played into the decision to send Kershaw back out for the seventh inning.
“For him, that part of the order, I felt good with him going back out there,” Roberts said. “Obviously there was some hard contact from that part of the order.”
That hard contact came from Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis, both hitting home runs into the left field seats near the Dodgers bullpen, where Tony Watson was warming up to replace Kershaw.
“It just wasn’t coming out as good as I would have liked it to that last inning,” Kershaw said. “I just didn’t have much left, I don’t know.”
Buoyed by the Dodgers offense, whose nine runs scored were the most they have scored in the playoffs since Game 1 of the 2014 NLDS, Kershaw’s four home runs ultimately weren’t a hindrance.
“I thought he was outstanding and challenged guys, pitching with the lead like he should,” said Justin Turner, who drove in five runs in the win. “He gave up four solo homers, but who cares. When you have a lead like that, it’s about attacking guys, not giving up free bases and pounding the zone.
“I thought he was spectacular for us tonight.”
Since returning from the disabled list, Kershaw has a 3.83 ERA in seven starts, with nine home runs allowed, and opposing batters are hitting .265/.315/.444 against him. Kershaw says his back is fine, and did Roberts.
“I think that he’s strong,” Roberts said. “I think he’s healthy, and ever since he’s come back, he’s continuing to get better.”
Kershaw was 0-3 with three no-decisions in his previous six playoff starts at Dodger Stadium.
“With the intensity of playoff games, there is more riding on each pitch. Mentally, you try to focus that much harder on every single pitch and just let the moment try to take over every single time. That can be taxing, for sure,” Kershaw said. “No excuses. I gave up too many home runs tonight. Maybe some of that played a factor, I don’t know.
“Right now my preparation is for a potential Game 5 or hopefully Game 1 of the next series,” he added. “Until something changes, that’s what I’m going with.”
The Dodgers try for their first 2-0 series lead since the 2009 NLDS on Saturday night in Game 2, with Rich Hill on the mound for the 6:08 p.m. PT start. Everyday Robbie Ray starts for the Diamondbacks.