LOS ANGELES – Cody Bellinger’s two-out single in the 13th inning drove in Manny Machado from second base and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1, Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium to tie the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
In a game tied since the fifth inning, Bellinger lined a 3-2 slider from Brewers reliever Junior Guerra into right field. Machado, who had singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch, scored just ahead of right fielder Christian Yelich’s throw home.
By the end, both teams were out of position players. The Dodgers used nine pitchers. Guerra was the sixth for the Brewers. The Dodgers had not scored since the first inning.
Benches and bullpens emptied briefly in the bottom of the 10th inning. At issue, Machado appeared to intentionally clip Brewers first baseman Jesús Aguilar’s leg with his own while running through the bag on a groundout. The two exchanged words, while first base coach George Lombard positioned himself between them. Machado, to that point, was hitless through five at-bats. The Brewers had taken issue with two of Machado’s slides into second base in Game 3, believing them to be overly aggressive.
Through three games, the Dodgers had led at the conclusion of three innings. It had been part of their issue, as a requirement for winning games is leading after at least some of the innings. And, of their nine runs in the series, only one had come before the seventh inning. They sought to rectify that in Game 4 against lefty Gio Gonzalez, who, turned out, lasted 6 ½ batters.
The Dodgers scored a run in the first inning when Gonzalez walked a batter, hit another and with two out allowed a single to Brian Dozier. It was the Dodgers’ first hit with a runner in scoring position in 14 at-bats. They scored just that one. Then, in the second, Yasiel Puig topped a one-hopper to Gonzalez, who leaped and deflected the ball, then twisted his left ankle when he landed. He lasted one more pitch. Rookie Freddy Peralta replaced him. The second inning ended with Peralta striking out pinch-hitter Max Muncy with the bases loaded.
The Brewers did not have a hit until the fourth, when Aguilar singled to right on the 44th pitch thrown by Dodgers starter Rich Hill. They scored in the fifth. No. 8-hitter Orlando Arcia singled through the middle and pinch-hitter Domingo Santana ripped a double to right-center field on a 1-2 curveball. Arcia scored from first base.
Hill pitched five innings. He allowed one run. While that is certainly a reasonable outcome, the Dodgers by then had scored once since the eighth inning of Game 2, which was Saturday. Therefore, Hill left a tied score to the bullpen and attacked a box of candy because of it.
The Dodgers had a decent opportunity to score in the eighth inning against lefty Josh Hader, among the most effective relievers in baseball. With two out, he’d allowed singles to the two left-handed batters he faced in the inning – Muncy and Bellinger. Hader had allowed eight hits to left-handed batters in 89 at-bats in the regular season, no two of those hits in the same game. Pinch-hitter Matt Kemp struck out to end the eighth.
Miley, who threw 74 pitches in Game 2, will pitch on three days’ rest. He did not pitch on short rest in 2018 and has just once in his career, in April 2012 for the Arizona Diamondbacks, when he pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief and four days later made a start.
Drafted by the Dodgers in 2006 as an 18-year-old, Kershaw, 30, could make his final start for the organization Wednesday. It would be his 338th start, including the postseason, and 345th appearance. He has won 153 regular-season games, along with three Cy Young awards and an MVP award. He has been the unquestioned ace of the staff since 2010.
The contract extension he agreed to before the 2014 season – for seven years and $215 million – included an opt-out clause after the fifth season, this one. He could stay and earn $65 million over the final two years of the contract. He could leave. He could negotiate an extension with the club. Still, for the first time in a decade, the Dodgers could face a season and field a rotation without Kershaw.
“I have not made a decision,” Kershaw said Tuesday night, before Game 4.
Kershaw’s eighth postseason has been, as many of his have been, mixed. He shut out the Atlanta Braves for eight innings in the Division Series. He allowed five runs, four of them earned, in three innings against the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLCS. He struck out five batters in those 11 innings, after striking out 8.6 hitters per nine innings in the regular season, his lowest rate since he was a rookie.
“It’s not like I’m trying to pitch to contact more,” Kershaw said. “It’s just happening.”
In 26 postseason appearances, 21 of them starts, Kershaw is 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA and one save. His career NLCS ERA is 5.24.
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