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Mets move on, while LA left to pick up pieces

Youth plays key role in NY's win over Dodgers, out early for third straight fall

LOS ANGELES -- Murphy's Law merged with Groundhog Day, and it was déjà vu all over again for the Dodgers on Thursday night.

Powered by Daniel Murphy's loud bat, the Mets and their young guns are moving on to confront the Cubs' youthful bombers in a National League Championship Series with huge box-office appeal. It was wrapped and sealed with New York's 3-2 decision in Game 5 of the NL Division Series at the Dodgers' expense.

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The Dodgers, meanwhile, were left once again to pick up the pieces and try to figure out a formula that doesn't fall apart in autumn.

:: NLDS: Mets vs. Dodgers -- Tune-in info ::

Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia finished the job by muzzling the Dodgers' offense after a two-run, four-hit first-inning uprising had towel-waving partisans at Dodger Stadium fully engaged.

But the last 11 Dodgers hitters of 2015 given a chance to drive a man home from scoring position were left empty-handed, leaving the NL West champions with the same conclusion they'd drawn the previous two postseasons at the hands of the Cardinals.

October is the cruelest month, cutting to the bone.

"It's frustrating," veteran Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford said, "because the last three years, it seems like we can't get over the hump. It's the same ending again. What we need is to catch a break sometime. These low-scoring games just didn't go our way."

The Mets' young guns -- deGrom, Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz -- validated their billing. They combined to limit the Dodgers to 11 runs (10 earned) across 30 1/3 innings while racking up 42 strikeouts.

The quartet of starters might not yet have the resumes of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but New York managed to beat Kershaw in Game 1 and Greinke in Game 5 in what may have been the last time the Dodgers' matchless partners worked together.

Video: [email protected] Gm5: Greinke strikes out nine over 6 2/3

Greinke has the contractual right to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. This could leave the Dodgers with a gaping hole in a rotation that was patched together behind the big two and Brett Anderson all season.

Asked if he'd like to return, Greinke had a brief response: "That would be nice." He left it at that.

The Mets are secure in the knowledge that their starting pitching is close to matchless and figures to be aligned for at least several years to come.

"We got here because we have very, very good pitching," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "In the middle of summer, when we weren't scoring any runs, we were still in games. We'd still win close games because our pitching kept us in it.

Video: [email protected] Gm5: Collins on the Mets' character, deGrom

"Our starters, our bullpen -- they're young, yeah, they're inexperienced. But they've got quality stuff, and that still pays off. That's why we've said all along, no matter what the outcome of the season is, the light at the end of the tunnel is here. And this is going to be a bright future for this organization."

The Cubs and their followers share that feeling about an impressive collection of young athletes who have matured sooner than anticipated under the guidance of manager Joe Maddon.

This NLCS has the trappings of a classic heavyweight title along the lines of Ali vs. Frazier, with the Mets' young guns unleashing their upper-90s heat against the Cubs' formidable row of young sluggers.

As the ace, deGrom outdueled Kershaw and Greinke to open and close the show, the Mets outhomered the Dodgers, 7-2. Murphy alone, with his three homers, left the park more often than a Dodgers outfit that led the league in homers with 187 -- 10 more than the Mets.

Murphy took Kershaw deep in the opener, and his blast against Greinke gave the Mets a lead Syndergaard and Familia preserved with three dominant relief innings. Familia retired all 16 hitters he faced in the series, including the final six for the first two-inning save of his career.

Video: [email protected] Gm5: Familia's six-out save sends Mets to LCS

"It doesn't take anything away from how great they are and what a great year they've had and that ballclub has had," Murphy said when asked about Kershaw and Greinke. "I think what it says is how good our pitching staff is."

The Dodgers gifted the Mets' tying run in the fourth as Murphy -- using his head and legs as well as his bat -- stole third during a one-out walk to Lucas Duda and scored on Travis d'Arnaud's sacrifice fly.

A shift on Duda left third base uncovered. Murphy alertly took it as Greinke, catcher Yasmani Grandal and shortstop Corey Seager watched. This was no time to be generous.

"A bunch of people made mistakes," Greinke said. "It wasn't any one person, and that's probably what's more disappointing about it. There were multiple people that could've been there."

Justin Turner, with three hits in Game 5 and a .526 series batting average, did his part for the Dodgers, but the ex-Met didn't get enough help from his friends.

Video: [email protected] Gm5: Turner doubles in 3rd to set LDS record

Inevitably, manager Don Mattingly's future was an uncomfortable postgame media topic. Adrian Gonzalez, the calm veteran voice, responded.

"Right now," he said, "I'm focused on getting over this loss. Obviously, I think he's our guy and I believe in him, and really, that's it. He's our guy and I believe in him."

Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer.
Read More: New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers