NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Steven Matz had one bad inning in his first postseason start, all the leeway Clayton Kershaw needed to keep the Mets from advancing to the NL Championship Series in front of their orange towel-twirling fans.
Moving forward to face the Chicago Cubs doesn’t get any easier, either. All New York has to do now: beat the Dodgers’ other ace, Zack Greinke, in Los Angeles.
PHOTOS: Dodgers Shut Down Mets In Game 4
Matz gave up a two-run double to former Mets infielder Justin Turner and New York was held to three hits by Kershaw over seven brilliant innings on Tuesday night, losing 3-1 to force a deciding Game 5 in the NL Division Series.
“Obviously we wanted to get it done tonight for our fans and for their support all year,” Mets outfielder Michael Conforto said. “We’re disappointed we couldn’t do that tonight, but you’ve got to love the fact that it’s going down to Game 5 and everything’s on the line.”
Jacob deGrom is set to start for New York at Dodger Stadium, where he beat Kershaw in Game 1. Greinke was the winner in Game 2, when Chase Utley keyed a go-ahead rally in the seventh with a takeout slide that broke shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg.
“We’re definitely looking forward to him taking the ball again Thursday,” Curtis Granderson said of deGrom, “and it’s going to be another tough matchup for both teams out there.”
Mets fans were revved up after their team routed the Dodgers 13-7 on Monday for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, putting New York in prime position to advance to its first NLCS since 2006.
Pitching on three days’ rest and on a five-start postseason skid, Kershaw kept the simmering crowd of 44,183 at bay while on the mound.
The Mets put two on against Chris Hatcher and Kenley Jansen — with help from what appeared to be a missed foul tip by plate umpire Chris Guccione on what would’ve been strike three for David Wright — in the eighth. Fans rose to their feet, sensing a chance to take advantage of the Dodgers’ weak bullpen, but Daniel Murphy popped out to right field to end the threat.
Jansen finished with a perfect ninth for the save.
The 24-year-old Matz, the fourth straight starter for New York making his postseason debut, entered 4-0 in his brief big league career, including six scoreless innings at Los Angeles on July 5.
And despite making his first start in 19 days because of a tight upper back, the left-hander looked sharp from the start in pitching for the team he grew up rooting for from about 50 miles away on Long Island.
He used his curveball to strike out leadoff batter Kiké Hernandez as fans lustily chanted “We wanted Utley!” and shook those ubiquitous playoff towels.
In fact, it was Kershaw who got the game’s first hit. He was erased on a fielder’s choice, but Howie Kendrick then singled to put runners on first and third. Adrian Gonzalez drove one run in with a single on a curveball as the rookie appeared to tire a bit.
“Steven was outstanding,” manager Terry Collins said. “Probably if he’d want one pitch back, it’s probably the hanging slider he threw Kershaw.”
Turner, who has become a fan-favorite in Los Angeles after he wasn’t offered salary arbitration by the Mets following the 2013 season, lined a double on another curveball to the left-field corner, scoring two when Yoenis Cespedes had trouble picking up the ball for a 3-0 lead.
With wild red hair and a bushy beard, Turner has been a thorn in the Mets’ side this series, going 7 for 15 with four doubles and three RBIs.
“That stuff’s all in the past. Has no effect on me,” Turner said. “I’m a Dodger. Happy to be a Dodger and glad to take the series back to L.A. for Game 5.”
Kershaw took care of the rest for the three-time NL West champions, giving up his second homer of the series to Murphy in the fourth and only two other singles. Murphy had only homered once in 126 at-bats against lefties during the regular season.
DeGrom was seen warming up in the Mets bullpen in the bottom of the fifth, when Matz was due up. But Bartolo Colon entered in relief after Michael Cuddyer struck out pinch hitting.
Matz gave up six hits. He struck out four and walked two — including Turner intentionally.
“I made some bad pitches and it wound up costing me three runs,” Matz said. “And when you’re facing a guy like Clayton Kershaw, you’ve got to put up zeroes.”
GETTING USED TO IT
Colon has appeared out of the bullpen three times this series. In 475 regular-season outings, he’s only pitched in relief eight times.
Dodgers: Greinke allowed a pair of solo homers during a 5-2 victory in Game 2. He went seven innings and struck out eight without a walk. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA in eight postseason starts. He was 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA this season, the lowest in the majors since Atlanta ace Greg Maddux posted a 1.63 mark in 1995.
Mets: Making his postseason debut, deGrom beat Kershaw 3-1 in the series opener at Dodger Stadium. Last season’s NL Rookie of the Year pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out 13, matching Tom Seaver’s franchise record for a postseason game.
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