Kershaw shuts down Cubs, as Dodgers even NLCS

Pitches seven shutout innings of two-hit ball; L.A. wins 1-0
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw pitched seven scoreless innings Sunday in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, surrendering only two hits. The Dodgers won 1-0.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw pitched seven scoreless innings Sunday in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, surrendering only two hits. The Dodgers won 1-0.

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When Clayton Kershaw completed his first career save in the National League Division Series on Thursday, teammate Charlie Culberson found the game ball on the ground so Kershaw could collect it as a keepsake.

Somewhere down the line, Kershaw might reflect on that ball and that moment, but the Los Angeles Dodgers ace had little time for such thoughts as he prepared for his quick turnaround Sunday against the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 the NL Championship Series.

“As far as reflecting on it or anything like that, you just can’t do it right now,” Kershaw said. “It doesn’t really matter at this point. I know the Cubs don’t care.”

Kershaw’s focus on the task at hand was evident from the get-go at Wrigley Field.

And he was focused. Kershaw dazzled over seven innings in the Dodgers’ 1-0 win that evened the series at a game a piece.

The only run in the game came on a home run by Adrian Gonzalez in the second.

Kershaw pitched 42⁄3 perfect innings before Javier Baez and Willson Contreras broke through with back-to-back singles. He didn’t reach a three-ball count until the sixth inning, when Dexter Fowler popped out foul in a nine-pitch at-bat. And he didn’t issue a walk until Anthony Rizzo reached on four straight balls to open the bottom of the seventh.

He had few scares through his seven-inning, six-strikeout performance, though he did visibly breathe a sigh of relief when Baez’s fly ball was caught on the warning track in center field for the final out of the seventh.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before the game that it would be “interesting to see” how Kershaw looked given his workload thus far in the playoffs.

Kershaw pitched three times in the five-game division series against the Nationals, throwing 101 pitches in Game 1, 110 pitches on three days’ rest in Game 4 and seven pitches in a two-out save two days later.

He said Saturday that he entered Sunday with no restrictions and “no excuses at this point.”

Kershaw has plenty of motivating factors to help him grind through this postseason run, including improving on a mediocre playoff resume before this year. In 16 career postseason appearances since 2008, including 12 starts entering Sunday, Kershaw had gone 3-6 with a 4.79 ERA.

He also missed more than two months with a herniated disc in his back this season, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he thinks that time off is motivating to his ace.

“Knowing he missed two and a half months, there’s a big part of him that wants to be there for the guys like they were for him while he was down,” Roberts said. “So I think that outside of how his arm feels, I think that part — the mental, the heart, the compete — wants to perform, not only for himself but for his teammates.”

His teammates see that too.

“He grinds during the four days in between starts,” said Dodgers infielder Chase Utley, who compared him to former Phillies teammate Roy Halladay. “He’s watching a ton of video. Game day he’s very quiet, very focused. He has blinders on, if you will. And believe it or not, playing with him, he’s better than I thought he was. And that’s a pretty big compliment, to be honest.”

LOS ANGELES CHICAGO

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Utley 2b 3 0 0 0 Fowler cf 4 0 0 0

Seager ss 3 0 0 0 Bryant 3b 4 0 0 0

Turner 3b 2 0 0 0 Rizzo 1b 3 0 0 0

Gonzalz 1b 3 1 1 1 Zobrist lf 3 0 0 0

Reddick rf 4 0 1 0 Russell ss 3 0 0 0

Jansen rp 0 0 0 0 Baez 2b 3 0 1 0

Pdrson cf 3 0 0 0 Contrrs c 3 0 1 0

Grandal c 1 0 0 0 Heyward rf 3 0 0 0

Toles lf 2 0 0 0 Hndrcks sp 1 0 0 0

Hrnandz ph 2 0 0 0 EdwrdsJr rp 0 0 0 0

Kershaw sp 3 0 1 0 Soler ph 1 0 0 0

Puig rf 1 0 0 0 Mntgmry rp 0 0 0 0

Strop rp 0 0 0 0

Montero ph 1 0 0 0

Chapman rp 0 0 0 0

Totals 27 1 3 1 Totals 29 0 2 0

LA Dodgers 010 000 000 — 1

Chi. Cubs 000 000 000 — 0

E—Grandal 1. LOB—Chicago 3, Los Angeles 8. HR—A.Gonzalez (2). SB—Pederson (1).

IP H R ER BB SO

LA Dodgers

Kershw W, 2-0 7 2 0 0 1 6

Jansen S, 3 2 0 0 0 0 4

Chi. Cubs

Hndrcks L, 0-1 5 1-3 3 1 1 4 5

Edwards Jr. 2-3 0 0 0 0 0

Montgomery 1 0 0 0 2 1

Strop 1 0 0 0 0 0

A.Chapman 1 0 0 0 1 0

Inherited runners-scored—Edwards Jr. 2-0. HBP—Ju.Turner (by Strop).

Umpires—Home, Eric Cooper; First, Gary Cederstrom; Second, Angel Hernandez; Third, Alfonso Marquez.

T—2:45. A—42,384 (42,157).

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