Los Angeles — One ace helped the Dodgers stave off elimination against the Mets.
Now their other one gets a chance to extend the playoffs in a winner-take-all Game 5.
Coming off Clayton Kershaw’s stellar outing that tied the National League Division Series, 2-2, right-hander Zack Greinke takes the mound tonight against Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom.
DeGrom, the Game 1 winner over Kershaw, will pitch on full rest, just like Game 2 winner Greinke.
The Dodgers are trying to advance to the NL Championship Series for the first time in two years. The Mets are seeking their first playoff series win since 2006, also the last time they were in the postseason.
The winner takes on the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS at home starting Saturday.
Fittingly, the Dodgers season could either be prolonged or end on back-to-back appearances by Kershaw and Greinke, whose arms propelled them to a third consecutive West title and a franchise-record third straight playoff appearance.
“They’ve given us two guys that stop streaks, save your bullpen, are just day-in, day-out consistent guys,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said by phone Wednesday when both teams traveled back to Los Angeles. “You can really count on what you’re going to get from them 90-something percent of the time.”
With Greinke and deGrom squaring off again, Kershaw says the series is “dead-even.”
“As good as Zack is and has been the whole year, deGrom has been the same, so there’s really no home-field advantage when you’re facing a guy like deGrom,” Kershaw said. “We saw that in Game 1. He’s just very impressive, just very tough to square up. If you can get strikeouts on heaters like he can, it’s really tough.”
Greinke has pitched at least six innings in all 33 of his starts with a 1.66 ERA that led the majors. As one of two right-handers on the Dodgers postseason roster, he has allowed two or fewer runs 27 times.
He came up big in the only other elimination game of his career, winning Game 5 of the 2013 NLCS against St. Louis, which led the series 3-1. Greinke allowed two runs in seven innings to force a sixth game, which Kershaw started and lost 9-0 to end the season.
“He’ll paint the corners. He’ll keep the ball down,” said Mets rookie left fielder Michael Conforto, who will start against Greinke. “If he throws that fastball down at the knees we’ll have to make him do that over and over again. But if he elevates, be aggressive with that and hit the ball hard somewhere and just try to keep him in the middle of the plate.”
Greinke is facing the Mets for the second time in five days, only now the Dodgers season is on the line for the second straight game.
“It seems like in my experience usually you have one good game and one bad game,” he said by phone. “But the better you pitch, the better your chances are. So my plan is just to pitch as good as possible and hopefully it works out.”
Mattingly said catcher Yasmani Grandal is 50-50 to play.
Greinke said he’s pitched equally well with either one behind the plate.
The Mets have outscored the Dodgers 19-16 in the first four games, including a 13-7 win in Game 3. Taking out that anomaly, the other three games were decided by three runs or less.
Dodgers add pitcher
The Dodgers claimed right-hander Brooks Brown from the Rockies and he will join Greinke as the second right-hander on their playoff roster and designated for assignment right-hander Jim Johnson.