By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Sunday night brought a matchup of the two stingiest starting pitchers in baseball by way of ERA, with Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks facing Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw. The plot played out to the max, as Kershaw threw two-hit ball over seven masterful shutout innings to lead the Dodgers to a 1-0 win in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs found little momentum all night, managing just the two hits and one walk off Kershaw, who struck out six, and nothing against Dodgers closer Kenley Jensen, who struck out four in two perfect innings of relief. Kershaw appeared as good as he had been all year in dominating the Cubs and evening the series 1-1.
“I really thought I had decent command all night,” Kershaw said. “I think they were looking curveball a few times and by accident I was throwing fastballs right down the middle. In those cases, they just happened to work out for me.”
The Cubs squared up a few balls late against Kershaw. Their best chance came when infielder Javier Baez hit the hardest fair ball of the evening off of Kershaw on a drive to deep center field that was tracked down by Joc Pederson to end the seventh. Kershaw had convinced manager Dave Roberts to stay in after a mound visit.
“I thought it was out for sure,” Kershaw said with some anger. “That’s your first freaking question? Dave came out (before) that, and I kind of talked my way into it. Fortunately, he hit it at someone, so it was good.”
Jansen was just as dominant as Kershaw. It only took him 18 to dispose of six Cubs hitters.
The concern that Kershaw, Jansen and the Dodgers had exhausted themselves Thursday in an NLDS clincher against the Nationals was never a factor.
“You have to give him credit,” Cubs shortstop Addison Russell said. “He is great athlete. He really had his stuff tonight.”
Hendricks’ only mistake was allowing a homer to Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in the second inning. Gonzalez went down and got a pitch that only the best left-handed hitters drive out of the park to opposite field.
“I knew he hit it pretty good,” said Hendricks, who allowed the one run in 5 1/3 innings. “He is a pretty good hitter. It was a pretty good pitch, down and away. I thought I hit my spot. Again, he is a good hitter, and he put a good swing on it.”
The Cubs had never lost a 1-0 game on a homer in their postseason history until Sunday. It was also the first time the Dodgers had ever won a 1-0 game in their long and accomplished playoff history.
After a workout day Monday, the Cubs will start Jake Arrieta while the Dodgers counter with Rich Hill in Game 3 on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.