The Dodgers are turning to Zack Greinke to even up their National League Division Series against St. Louis.
Greinke had the best start of his postseason career in Game 1 of last year's NLCS against the Cardinals. The right-hander allowed two runs and four hits while striking out a playoff career-high 10 in eight innings. He didn't get a decision after the Dodgers lost 3-2 in 13 innings on the road.
Now, after a 10-9 loss in Game 1, they need him to deliver a win Saturday night to avoid heading to the Midwest down 2-0 in the best-of-five series.
"I've faced them a bunch, so I kind of know some of their holes and where I like to pitch them," Greinke said. "But then they also have a couple guys on their team that are really smart hitters that make adjustments faster than other guys."
Greinke came up big in Game 5 of last year's NLCS, pitching the Dodgers to a win at home that forced the series back to St. Louis, where they were eliminated in Game 6.
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"The Cardinals have knocked me out both of the times in the playoffs, so it's not any more motivation, but it's kind of tough losing to the same team twice," he said.
St. Louis gives the ball to Lance Lynn, who has reached the postseason every year since he got to the majors in 2011. His five playoff wins are tied for third-most all-time on the club, trailing Chris Carpenter (10) and Bob Gibson (seven).
"They got some guys who can do some things and you got to make sure that you limit it as much as you can," he said.
Lynn has taken steps to harness his fiery emotions, and manager Mike Matheny believes it has allowed the right-hander to be more consistent.
"His execution suffered because of his distraction," Matheny said. "He's able to harness that this year and it's just part of that maturing process. He sees when he's able to put that kind of game plan together and stick with it regardless of the things outside of his control he's going to give himself a better chance of success."
The Dodgers find themselves trailing in the series after another postseason failure by ace Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw dominated through the first six innings Friday, retiring 16 in a row between homers by Randal Grichuk in the first and Carpenter in the sixth.
But he collapsed in a shaky seventh, when he gave up five of the Cardinals' eight runs and became the first pitcher in postseason history to allow seven runs in consecutive starts. He yielded that many in losing Game 6 of the NLCS last year.
Kershaw, a heavy favorite to win a third Cy Young Award in four years, fell to 1-4 with a career 5.20 ERA in the postseason.
"Just hoping to get another chance," he said. "I always want to pitch. Who knows if they even want me to pitch at this point?"
St. Louis overcame a five-run deficit against Kershaw and held on when Trevor Rosenthal blew a 100-mph fastball past Yasiel Puig with a runner on third to end a back-and-forth game that lasted nearly four hours.
In a matchup of 20-game winners, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright hit Puig with a pitch leading off the third, triggering a benches-clearing scrum. There was shoving and shouting, but no punches were thrown.
Wainwright wilted first on the mound, allowing six runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings.
The Dodgers rallied again in the ninth, pulling to 10-9 after Dee Gordon's RBI groundout scored A.J. Ellis, who singled. But Puig struck out swinging against Rosenthal, who reached 100 mph on five of the seven pitches in the at-bat.
Adrian Gonzalez pulled the Dodgers to 10-8 with a two-run homer in the eighth off Randy Choate.
The Cardinals ripped four consecutive singles to center field off Kershaw to open the seventh. Matt Adams and Jon Jay had RBI singles, drawing them to 6-4.
Carpenter then doubled to deep right, driving in three runs for a 7-6 lead and chasing Kershaw. He allowed eight runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out 10 and walked none.