LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw still hasn’t figured out how to dominate in October. This time, he couldn’t even keep the ball in the yard.
Justin Turner and the Los Angeles Dodgers made sure it hardly mattered in a strong postseason opener.
Turner homered and drove in five runs, Kershaw won despite giving up four long balls and the Dodgers roared to a 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night in Game 1 of their NL Division Series.
Turner hit a three-run homer and Yasiel Puig added an RBI double before Los Angeles made its first out against starter Taijuan Walker, who lasted just one inning in his playoff debut. Turner, the red-bearded slugger with postseason poise, added an RBI single in the fourth and another in the eighth to tie the Dodgers record for most RBI in a postseason game.
With his teammates providing such a generous cushion, Kershaw could afford to allow a few big flies in the first victory of his checkered postseason career at Dodger Stadium. He improved to 5-7 in the playoffs.
“Yeah, he gave up four solo homers, but who cares?” asked Turner, batting .397 with 17 RBI in his last 17 postseason games. “When you have a lead like that, it’s about attacking guys, not giving up free bases and pounding the zone. So I thought he was spectacular for us tonight.”
Kershaw yielded back-to-back homers into the short left-field porch by light-hitting Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis on his final two pitches in the seventh, making him the first pitcher in team history and the eighth in baseball history to give up four home runs in a postseason game.
LA’s big lead was down to 7-4 when the three-time Cy Young Award winner left, but the suspense didn’t last: Turner and the 104-win Dodgers added two more runs in the eighth, capping a 12-hit performance.
“It just wasn’t coming out as good as I would have liked it to that last inning,” said Kershaw, who gave up five hits in 6⅓ innings. “So they hit some good pitches. Not really. I just didn’t have much left. I don’t know. Hopefully, when you give up hits, maybe one or two would stay in the ballpark, but tonight it didn’t seem like that was going to happen.”
Game 2 is Saturday night, with Rich Hill facing Robbie Ray and the Diamondbacks in a matchup of left-handers.
Puig and Corey Seager both tripled and drove in two runs for the Dodgers, who finished 11 games ahead of Arizona to earn their fifth consecutive NL West crown.
A.J. Pollock and J.D. Martinez also homered off Kershaw, but Arizona’s euphoria from its wild-card victory over Colorado was erased during a rough first inning.