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Clayton Kershaw Carries the Dodgers to the Brink of a World Series Berth

Clayton Kershaw Carries the Dodgers to the Brink of a World Series Berth

Milwaukee’s plan worked brilliantly early.

The Brewers jumped to a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a Lorenzo Cain double over the head of center fielder Cody Bellinger. Woodruff kept the Dodgers in check, getting Manny Machado to hit into a pair of double plays — once shattering his bat.

In the fifth, though, the Dodgers broke through, helped by some shakiness from the Brewers’ defense. Taylor, in contrast from Machado, hustled his way to first with an infield single and was rewarded with an extra base when shortstop Orlando Arcia’s ambitious throw skipped past Aguilar. Taylor stole third on the next pitch, sliding in without a throw, and came home two batters later when Barnes grounded a 0-1 slider up the middle to make the score 1-1.

The base hit by Barnes was doubly important — it allowed Kershaw, the next batter, to remain in the game.

The Dodgers took the lead in the sixth, which started with Turner lining a single in front of hard-charging Cain in center field. After Joc Pederson struck out, Machado was hit by a pitch, and up came Muncy, who took a nonroster invitation to spring training and parlayed it into a 35-home run season and a regular spot in the lineup.

Muncy, one of two left-handers in the lineup, along with Bellinger, stroked a fastball through a hole in the shifted defense and into left field to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. It also spelled the end for Woodruff, who left after having thrown 70 pitches.

He was replaced by Corbin Burnes, who had pitched two innings on Tuesday night and immediately struck out Taylor in the sixth. But the next batter, the pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig, lined a 2-2 fastball — the fifth consecutive one — up the middle to score Machado easily. When the Dodgers added two more runs in the seventh against Joakim Soria — who was pitching for the third time in less than 48 hours — it was enough of a cushion to turn the ball over to the bullpen.

If it is Kershaw’s last game in a Dodger uniform — he said Tuesday he had not made a decision on whether he would opt out of the remaining two years and $65 million remaining on his contract — it was surely a gratifying one. His final line: one run allowed on three hits over seven innings, with nine strikeouts.

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