LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers might have their backs against a wall after their 8-4 loss in Game 5, but they're at least treating it like a comfortable wall given the starting pitchers they have lined up for Games 6 and 7."We can grab back that momentum with one name:
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers might have their backs against a wall after their 8-4 loss in Game 5, but they're at least treating it like a comfortable wall given the starting pitchers they have lined up for Games 6 and 7.
"We can grab back that momentum with one name: Kershaw," Dodgers first baseman Adrián González said.
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All the Dodgers needed to explain their confidence despite a 3-2 series deficit was to bring up the last times Clayton Kershaw and fellow southpaw Rich Hill pitched: two shutout victories in Games 2 and 3 and 13 innings between the two of them, plus 3 1/3 more from Kenley Jansen.
They also remember what happened the last time they needed two wins or faced elimination. Down 2-1 in a best-of-five NL Division Series against Washington, Kershaw and Hill's starts again delivered two wins.
"We're confident. Any time we've got Kershaw pitching in a do-or-die game, especially with how he looked in Game 2, you're confident," right-hander Ross Stripling said. "We were in the same spot with Washington, two win-or-go-home games, and we were able to pull them out with the same two guys on the mound. We've been here before."
Every win for Los Angeles this postseason has come on either a Kershaw start or a Hill start. The Cubs starters are formidable in their own right, with this season's ERA champion in Kyle Hendricks for Game 6 and last season's NL Cy Young winner in Jake Arrieta, but the Dodgers have already shown they can beat both this series.
"This team is more than capable of winning two games in a row," infielder/outfielder Kiké Hernandez said. "In Game 6, we have the best pitcher on the mound, and then in Game 7, we have Rich, who looked pretty good against them. The last time we lost two in a row, we came back and won two in a row against Washington, so I don't see why we're out of this. We're still pretty confident we can come back and win a series."
Confidence is really all the Dodgers can project after two sloppy games at Dodger Stadium that cost them a 2-1 series lead. While Kershaw, Hill and Jansen have combined for 16 1/3 shutout innings this series, the rest of the pitching staff has allowed 21 earned runs in 27 2/3 innings.
The good news is that those three top pitchers could easily throw the vast majority of the team's innings from here on out. When asked if the Dodgers having to fall back on Kershaw for a win was beginning to sound like a broken record, all shortstop Corey Seager could do was smile and shoot back, "I like that record."
Indeed, the team is well aware of what's on the line for Kershaw as he takes the mound in Wrigley Field.
"He wants it more than anybody. We want him to have it," right-hander Joe Blanton said. "He's going to go out and do what he does best. Whatever the results that happen, everybody is going to be 100 percent into the game and ready to go. If we're fortunate enough to go on, we'll do the same thing the next day."
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com.