Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw pitched seven stellar innings and the Dodgers parlayed nine hits into a 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday to move within one win of returning to baseball's World Series.
The Dodgers took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series, and can reach Major League Baseball's championship showcase for the second straight year with a victory in game six in Milwaukee on Friday.
The winner of the series will take on either the reigning champion Houston Astros -- who beat the Dodgers in seven games last season -- or the Boston Red Sox in Major League Baseball's championship showcase.
The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead into Wednesday's American League Championship Series contest in Houston.
Kershaw, who endured the shortest post-season outing of his career in the Dodgers' game one loss at Milwaukee last week, gave up one run on three hits over seven innings, striking out nine and walking two.
He said heading back to Milwaukee with a 3-2 series lead was "huge".
"It's a tough place to play," he said of the Brewers' roofed stadium. "It's a great team. And it's been a battle every single game we've played them so far, and we don't expect anything different when we go back.
"We're in a much better spot now because of today and I'm glad I was able to contribute today."
Kershaw was in trouble in the third, when the Brewers scored their only run, but with the bases loaded he struck out Jesus Aguilar in an eight pitch at bat to end the frame and retired the next 12 batters he faced.
"Anytime you can work yourself out of situations like that that's going to make or break the game," Kershaw said. "Once I was able to work out of that, really just tried to focus on getting the next guy, next guy, next guy."
The Dodgers, who led the National League with 235 homers, drove in all but one of their runs with singles.
After getting their first hit in the fourth inning, the Dodgers put up their first run in the fifth, when Chris Taylor got things rolling with a leadoff single, reached second on a throwing error and stole third. He scored on a base hit by Austin Barnes past a drawn-in outfield.
- 'Very unconventional' -
They added two more in the sixth, chasing weary Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff in the process.
Justin Turner led off with a single and after Woodruff struck out Joc Pederson he hit Manny Machado on the elbow. Max Muncy followed with a single that scored the go-ahead run.
That was the end of the day for Woodruff, the de facto Brewers starter after manager Craig Counsell made the unorthodox move of pulling left-handed starting pitcher Wade Miley immediately after he walked the Dodgers' left-handed leadoff man Cody Bellinger in the game's first at-bat.
Counsell sent in righty Woodruff to take on the rest of a Dodgers lineup heavy on right-handed hitting talent and confirmed after the game that had been his plan all along, with Miley now slated to start on Friday.
"Look, they're trying to get matchups, we're trying to get matchups," he said of letting Dodgers manager Dave Roberts think they'd be up against a left-handed starting pitcher. "They're a very tough team to get matchups against."
Roberts had little to say on the tactic.
"It was very unconventional," he said. "But we were prepared for anything."
After Woodruff departed with one out in the sixth, pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig lined a two-strike single off reliever Corbin Burns into centerfield to score Machado.
The Dodgers stretched the advantage to 5-1 with two runs in the seventh before the Brewers tacked on a run in the ninth.
© 2018 AFP