NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, pitching on short rest, stymied the New York Mets in a 3-1 win on Tuesday to stave off elimination and send their National League Division Series back to Los Angeles.
The victory leveled the series at 2-2 and set up a decisive Game Five on Thursday with the winner advancing to the best-of-seven National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, who beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 in their series.
It also snapped a personal five-game postseason losing streak for three-time Cy Young Award winner Kershaw, who pitched seven innings and gave up one run on three hits, which was all the Mets could muster in the entire game.
Two relievers followed the big left-hander to the mound as Los Angeles' pitching shut down a Mets' attack that produced 13 runs on Monday.
"I felt good to get a win tonight. I definitely wanted to send this back to Los Angeles," said Kershaw. "I just really wanted to push it."
Los Angeles scored their runs in the third inning in a rally started by a single from Kershaw and keyed by an RBI-single by Adrian Gonzalez, followed by a two-run double by ex-Met Justin Turner off New York rookie starter Steven Matz.
Pitching on three days rest, one fewer than usual, following his Game One loss, Kershaw struck out eight and walked only one through 94 pitches, yielding his only run on a fourth-inning homer by Daniel Murphy.
Kershaw, who has a career regular season record of 114-56 with an ERA of 2.43, came into Tuesday's game with a post-season record of 1-6 and a career ERA of 4.99, and left as the man who saved the Dodgers' season."I'm actually really happy for him," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "This kid is tremendous.
"To see him be able to do that tonight on short rest is a really good feeling. I think a lot of those guys in (our) clubhouse feel the same way."
New York threatened in the eighth, putting men on first and second with two outs after walks to Curtis Granderson and David Wright, before Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got Murphy to fly out to right on a 3-2 pitch.
"We played a pretty good ballgame I thought," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "You're facing a pitcher, who when he's right, they just don't get a lot of hits and he was right."
Kershaw relied on his fastball, mixing in a knee-buckling curveball as the game wore on.
After giving up Murphy's home run in the fourth, the Texan went on to strike out six of seven batters into the sixth inning.
Zack Greinke, LA's Game Two winner and a Cy Young candidate who went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA in the regular season, will take the mound in the series decider against Game One winner Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54).
Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Peter Rutherford