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Brandon Woodruff threw two perfect innings and ignited an 11-hit attack with the first home run ever recorded by a left-handed-hitting pitcher against a lefty pitcher in postseason history Friday night, leading the host Milwaukee Brewers to a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
The win was the Brewers’ 12th straight dating back to the end of the regular season.
Game 2 in the best-of-7 is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, also in Milwaukee, with the Dodgers expected to pitch left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu against Brewers lefty Wade Miley.
Domingo Santana had a two-run, pinch-hit single, and Jesus Aguilar smacked a home run as the Brewers sent Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw to the showers after just three-plus innings, the shortest postseason start of his career.
Manny Machado drove in three runs with a home run and two-run single for the Dodgers, who are making their third straight appearance in the NLCS.
Woodruff got the Brewers rolling, first with his arm. He came on in relief after the Dodgers had taken a 1-0 lead against Milwaukee starter Gio Gonzalez, with Machado providing the run with his third homer this postseason in the second inning.
Gonzalez was pulled after two innings despite having allowed just one hit and one walk. He also struck out one.
After retiring the Dodgers 1-2-3 in the top of the third, Woodruff stepped to the plate and belted a two-strike Kershaw fastball well over the fence in right-center field for his second career home run, tying the score.
“I thought he was going to attack me. I was just trying to make contact, make it a tough at-bat for him, and make him work a little bit. Just got lucky, and was able to hit it out,” Woodruff told Fox Sports postgame.
The Brewers added a second run in the inning, in large part because of a nightmarish sequence by Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, who recorded two errors — one on catcher’s interference — and a passed ball in the inning.
Hernan Perez delivered the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly, which would have ended the inning if not for the catcher’s interference on an apparent lineout by Aguilar.
Milwaukee then took command in the fourth and ended Kershaw’s night, with Santana’s pinch-hit giving the Brewers a 4-1 lead and prompting the Dodgers to summon Ryan Madson from the bullpen.
Ryan Braun capped the three-run inning with an RBI single, making it 5-1.
Kershaw was charged with all five runs, four of which were earned. He allowed six hits and two walks, striking out two.
“It was a tough one,” Kershaw told reporters. “Obviously you don’t want to get your team off to that start.
“I didn’t feel out of control. Just gave up a few hits.”
The standout’s previous shortest postseason start had been four innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 NLCS.
He fell to 8-8 in his postseason career.
With Woodruff and Josh Hader combining for five shutout innings, the Brewers took a 6-1 lead into the eighth before the Dodgers made it a game.
Batting with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, Machado blooped a two-run single off Jeremy Jeffress to get Los Angeles within 6-3, and Matt Kemp made it a two-run game with a sharp single to left.
But Jeffress was able to strike out pinch hitter Yasiel Puig with the potential tying runs on base, preserving the 6-4 lead.
The Dodgers got within 6-5 against Corey Knebel in the ninth when Joc Pederson drew a two-out walk and Chris Taylor lashed a triple into and out of the glove of center fielder Lorenzo Cain.
But Knebel bounced back to strike out Justin Turner to end it and recorded his first career postseason save.
“The bullpen has been our biggest strength all year,” Braun told Fox Sports. “The biggest reason we’re here is because of the depth of our bullpen and the success they’ve had this year. I wasn’t surprised. I was nervous at the end, just like everyone else, I’m sure. But it was nice to get that first one.”
Turner struck out four times in a game for the first time in his career.
Cain had three hits for the Brewers, who had limited the Colorado Rockies to a total of just two runs in a three-game sweep in the NL Division Series.
Taylor collected three hits, while Machado and Kemp had two apiece for the Dodgers, who won the season series from the Brewers 4-3.
Los Angeles committed four errors in the contest.
“We gave up too many bases,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We didn’t play clean.”
—Field Level Media