It's all tied up.
Adrian Gonzalez hit a home run and Clayton Kershaw threw seven shutout innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers evened the NLCS at one game apiece by edging out the Chicago Cubs 1-0 at Wrigley Field on Sunday night.
Gonzalez led off the second inning with a solo shot to left-center. Kyle Hendricks left a cut-fastball just a bit over the plate and Gonzalez didn't miss it for his seventh career postseason home run as a Dodger.
"I noticed in the first inning he attacked guys with fastballs early, so I just wanted to get a fastball and elevate," Gonzalez said of his at-bat that produced the game's only run. "Thank god I was able to do that and hit it into that jet stream."
Clayton Kershaw retired the first 14 batters he saw before allowing back-to-back singles to Javier Baez and Wilson Contreas. The 4 and 2/3 innings of perfect pitching was the longest perfect game bid in Kershaw's postseason career.
"Give him credit," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Kershaw. "He had both velocity and location. He didn't really have his curveball today and that should have worked in our favor, but we weren't able to get to him."
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Kershaw overcame his own seventh inning demons as he pitched a scoreless frame after the stretch at Wrigley Field. It was by far his most stressful frame as he walked the leadoff batter on four straight pitches, watched as Yasmani Grandal dropped a fly ball behind the plate for an error, and then gave up a deep fly ball to Baez that was caught at the ivy in straightaway center.
"I thought it was out for sure," Kershaw said of Baez's fly ball. "I had a mini stroke right there. I had a slight panic moment for sure. He [Roberts] is not going to trust me anymore if guys keep hitting the ball like tat. I missed my spot over the plate, it was scary."
Entering Sunday night, the seventh inning was Kershaw's kryptonite as he posted a 28.93 career postseason ERA in the seventh frame. In all other innings of the postseason, his ERA is 3.00.
"I've said it time and time again, he's the best pitcher on the planet. So the history has no bearing on anything for me," Roberts said of Kershaw's struggles in the seventh inning. "This is a new year and I don't think anybody in the clubhouse cares about that narrative."
Kershaw recorded his first ever scoreless postseason start of his career, allowing just two hits with one walk and six strikeouts over seven superb innings.
"This was a game we really wanted to have especially when Clayton threw the ball the way he did," continued Roberts. "For him to go seven innings and get the ball to Kenley was a fun night."
Hendricks was the hard-luck loser, allowing one run on three hits with four walks and five strikeouts in 5 and 1/3 strong innings.
Kenley Jansen dominated the Cubs for the final two frames, recording his second six-out save in the postseason.
"You see what Kersh [Kershaw] did in Game 5 and come out here today and put the team on his back," Jansen said after the game. "It gave me more energy to go out there and help the team win."
Los Angeles knotted up the best-seven-series in the NLCS at one game apiece as we shift to sunny Southern California for Game 3 at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night.
"We need to go out there and put the pressure on them," added Jansen. "We've been the underdogs all season and they're the best team in the league. We need to go home and get some victories."
Players of the Game:
Adrian Gonzalez: Solo home run.
Clayton Kershaw: Seven scoreless innings.
Kenley Jansen: Six-out save.
1. Heads Up, Double Up: Cubs second baseman, Javier Baez, turned a brilliant, but unusual inning-ending double play in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Joc Pederson hit a blooper to second that should have been the second out of the inning. However, Baez wisely let it drop, and played it on the bounce, throwing to second for one out, and then running down Gonzalez for the final out of the frame. After the inning, Baez winked at the camera in the dugout.
2. Change the Narrative: As good as Clayton Kershaw is, he had never had a scoreless start in his postseason career. It was the lucky number 13 that Kershaw was finally able to slay some demons as he recorded his first scoreless start of the postseason (seven innings).
Clayton Kershaw: 1st scoreless postseason start (13th career postseason start) — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 17, 2016
3. Almost Famous: Clayton Kershaw carried a perfect game bid into the fifth inning in Game 2 of the NLCS. The 4 and 2/3 untouched innings were the longest in Kershaw's postseason career.
Dodgers (1-1): Rich Hill heads to the mound for Game 3 as the series shifts West for the middle three games.
Cubs (1-1): 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta returns to the place he threw a no-hitter as he takes the mound in Game 3 of the NLCS at 5:08 PM PST on Tuesday.
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