LOS ANGELES -- Pitching just like the legend sitting in the second row at Dodger Stadium, Sandy Koufax, left-hander Clayton Kershaw overwhelmed the explosive Astros with 11 strikeouts in seven dazzling innings on Tuesday night, and Justin Turner slugged a tiebreaking two-run homer off Dallas Keuchel for a 3-1 Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Pitching just like the legend sitting in the second row at Dodger Stadium, Sandy Koufax, left-hander Clayton Kershaw overwhelmed the explosive Astros with 11 strikeouts in seven dazzling innings on Tuesday night, and Justin Turner slugged a tiebreaking two-run homer off Dallas Keuchel for a 3-1 Dodgers win in the opener of the World Series.
The two-hour, 28-minute game -- the quickest in Fall Classic history since Game 4 of the 1992 Series (2:21) -- gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven World Series presented by YouTube TV, with Game 2 here on Wednesday night. The winner of Game 1 has gone on to win 25 of the past 29 World Series, and 62.5 percent of the Series overall.
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Turner's sixth-inning home run -- hit using a lighter bat than he used his first two plate appearances -- followed a two-out walk to Chris Taylor, who opened the bottom of the first by launching Keuchel's first pitch 447 feet for his third postseason homer.
"I think CT is the hero," Turner said of his co-MVP of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World. "He got us on the board early. He drew the two-out walk, stayed in the zone and gave me the opportunity. That's what he's been doing for us all year long. He's the spark plug at the top of the lineup, and when he goes, we go."
Before the game, someone had scrawled a plan on the whiteboard in Los Angeles' clubhouse. "Hit these boys in their mouths & don't look back!" the message read. The Dodgers did just that.
"Taylor hit a first-pitch four-seamer out of the yard, kind of hit us in the jaw," Keuchel said.
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"We recovered nicely. I knew we would scratch a run, maybe two, off of Kershaw, but he was as good as advertised. It was one pitch away from being 1-1 going into the seventh. We're trying to win one of two here, so hopefully we'll come out tomorrow and get a win."
In this postseason, Turner has bolstered his case as one of the great October producers of his generation with four homers (one shy of Davey Lopes' club record), a franchise single-season record of 14 RBIs and 26 career postseason RBIs, tying Duke Snider's franchise record.
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"He's that guy you want up there in the big moments," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Turner. "He doesn't scare off."
Los Angeles' first World Series appearance in 29 years began with a record 103 degrees at first pitch, but the heat didn't bother Kershaw, who in his World Series debut allowed only three hits and a run on Alex Bregman's home run leading off the fourth.
"Tonight was one of those nights I think the first time in a while, where we've seen all three of his pitches synced up," said Roberts. "He just was repeating the delivery, held the velocity. Was throwing the baseball where he needed to, where he wanted to."
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Kershaw, in a franchise-record-setting seventh postseason victory, didn't walk a batter, and the 11 strikeouts were tied for the most by a Dodger in a World Series game since Koufax's 15 in Game 1 in 1963 against the Yankees. They also were the most for any pitcher in the World Series since the Yanks' Orlando Hernandez had 12 in 2000, and the most strikeouts by any one pitcher against the Astros this year. The only other pitcher with 11 strikeouts and no walks in a World Series game was current Dodgers executive Don Newcombe (1949), who also was in attendance Tuesday night.
"I think this team is a really good hitting team," Kershaw said. "They hit a lot of homers and don't strike out. There's little room for error. So it's important for me to establish pitches, be able to throw multiple things for strikes, and thankfully I was able to do that tonight.
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"I made a few mistakes. Obviously Bregman got me, then threw one down the middle to Carlos Correa that he popped up; that could've gone a long way, too. So for the most part, though, I'll take it.
"And then two big swings, [Taylor] just getting that monkey off our back, getting that first run across is huge. [Turner] just doing what he does, just keeps getting clutch hit after clutch hit. Just trying to make that two-run lead stand up."
Brandon Morrow pitched the eighth inning and Kenley Jansen the ninth for the save. Jansen has begun his postseason career with 12 consecutive save conversions, the most since saves became an official stat in 1969. The Dodgers' bullpen has thrown a postseason record 25 consecutive scoreless innings. Los Angeles relievers have allowed three runs over 30 2/3 innings in the postseason.
Kershaw said he told Roberts he had another inning in him after throwing only 83 pitches, but the manager went to this October's best bullpen.
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"You know with our bullpen, it doesn't matter," Kershaw said. "So I told him I was good to go, but how can you argue with what [Morrow] and Kenley are doing back there? They proved it tonight once again."
The Astros fell to 1-5 on the road this postseason, compared with 6-0 at Minute Maid Park. Their latest road defeat also dropped the franchise to 0-5 in World Series games.
"Sometimes you have to tip the hat to the other team," Houston second baseman Jose Altuve said. "I think that's the case today. You have to tip your hat to Clayton. He made quality pitches since the first inning. It was really tough to hit him. He did a really good job."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Start 'em up: Taylor turned on the first pitch of the game thrown by Keuchel and sent it 447 feet into the left-field seats, joining Don Buford (1969), Dustin Pedroia (2007) and Alcides Escobar ('15) as the only players to connect on a leadoff homer in Game 1 of the World Series. Taylor's homer is the second-longest dinger tracked by Statcast™ this postseason, behind only Willson Contreras' 491-foot blast in Game 4 of the NLCS.
"I never expected that," Keuchel said. "This is their house and they play well here, so I expected something to happen. I didn't expect that to happen. I expected myself to get the job done. I regrouped pretty quickly. That was the first pitch of the first inning, so there was a lot of game left. We're a good team for a reason, we're here for a reason, but this was a tough one to swallow."
Justin time: Keuchel's two-out walk to Taylor in the sixth -- the only walk he issued -- proved costly. That set up Turner, who blasted a 1-2 pitch to left field for a two-run homer that put the Dodgers ahead, 3-1. Keuchel hadn't allowed two homers in a game since May 5 against the Angels in Anaheim. Turner has reached base safely in all nine games this postseason, and he has hit safely in 24 of his past 25 playoff games (since Game 1 of the 2015 NL Division Series).
"Not too many guys can have that pedigree and be the kind of man he is. And I'm thankful that I've gotten to hang out with him for a little while." -- Kershaw, on his relationship with Koufax
"He's Clayton Kershaw, man. He's been like that his whole career." -- Altuve
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Dodgers pitchers haven't allowed a hit with runners in scoring position in the past seven postseason games.
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Astros:Justin Verlander looks to remain unbeaten in an Astros uniform when he starts Game 2 of the World Series against the Dodgers on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. Since being acquired on Aug. 31, Verlander is 9-0 with a 1.23 ERA in nine games with Houston, including eight starts.
Dodgers:Rich Hill starts Wednesday's Game 2, looking to pitch deeper than his first two postseason games this month. He's allowed three runs in nine innings with 12 strikeouts and four walks, going four innings in a no-decision against the D-backs in the NLDS presented by T-Mobile and five innings in a no-decision against the Cubs in the NLCS, both at Dodger Stadium. Hill is 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 10 career games against the Astros.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.