Dodgers vs. Brewers final score: Kershaw flops, Milwaukee holds on late to win NLCS Game 1

The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 in Friday night's Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The Brewers now lead the best-of-seven series 1-0.

Here are some things you should know about Game 1.

Kershaw, Grandal struggle

Clayton Kershaw has arguably been the best pitcher of his generation. Yet the one blemish on his record is a lack of postseason success. He entered Friday with a career 4.08 ERA in the postseason, including a 4.75 mark in 10 Championship Series appearances.

Unfortunately for Kershaw, his latest start didn't help his reputation -- in part because it was the shortest of his postseason career:

Kershaw lasted just three innings while permitting four earned runs on six hits (including a home run) and two walks. He fanned just two batters, inducing one swing-and-miss on his 30 two-strike pitches.

Of course, Kershaw wasn't the only one to blame. His batterymate, Yasmani Grandal, deserves his share, too.

Grandal had a particularly ugly third inning, during which he committed two errors and allowed a passed ball. One of the errors was a catcher's interference call on what looked to be a Jesus Aguilar lineout. Instead, Aguilar was awarded first base. Later, Grandal would allow the runners to advance, and would also have a throw home clank off his glove. Ouch.

Coincidentally, Grandal was just the second catcher to ever have such an inning. The first occurred exactly a year prior, when Matt Wieters committed the same indignity in Game 5 of the NLDS:

All and all, not the most inspiring night from either Kershaw or Grandal. And while they weren't the only Dodgers to fail, their shortcomings were the most noticeable.

Counsell's moves (mostly) pay off

For as cursed as the Dodgers seemed, the opposite was true for the Brewers. Almost every decision by manager Craig Counsell seemed to work out.

Counsell nimbly managed his pitching staff, removing Gio Gonzalez after two innings and rolling with Brandon Woodruff. The move was questionable at the time, since it meant Woodruff would lead off the ensuing inning. Yet even that turned out well, as Woodruff tied the game with a homer -- yes, he homered against Clayton Kershaw:

Counsell would later turn the game over to Josh Hader, the lanky southpaw accustomed to multi-inning assignments. Rather than ask for two innings, Counsell required three. Hader delivered, striking out four and keeping the Dodgers off the board, just as desired.

Along the way, Counsell also made a wise pinch-hitting decision by calling upon Domingo Santana. It was Santana who subsequently broke the game open with a two-run single:

Santana didn't have his best year offensively, but he's always produced off the bench. In an admittedly small sample of 59 plate appearances, he's hit .340/.424/.720 for his career. Santana would even steal a base, with the initial out call being overturned through the miracle of instant replay. It was a rare challenge win for the Brewers, who struggle in that department:

All and all, it was just that kind of night for the Brewers.

Dodgers' late rally falls short

This is where the "mostly" comes into play from the previous subhead.

After Hader did his job across three frames, Counsell restarted the reliever carousel in the eighth. He brought in Xavier Cedeno, who recorded one out and allowed a baserunner. Then Counsell turned to Joakim Soria, who recorded an out (on a generous strike call) and permitted two more baserunners. Finally, Counsell went to Jeremy Jeffress.

Jeffress blew a save in Game 1 of the NLDS, and came dangerously close to doing the same on Friday. He allowed consecutive singles, turning a 6-1 game into a 6-4 contest. Jeffress did course correct in time, striking out Yasiel Puig to end the threat, but it raised the question: Should Counsell have just brought in Corey Knebel to begin with? (Knebel did pitch the ninth, and nearly blew the lead himself. So maybe not.)

Obviously that question comes with the benefit of hindsight. Alas, that's life for a manager -- especially one trotting out an unconventional strategy in the postseason.

Yelich has relatively quiet night

While Lorenzo Cain recorded three hits to lead the Brewers, the NL's likely MVP Award winner Christian Yelich walked to extend his on-base streak. He's reached in all four Milwaukee playoff games.

It's perhaps worth noting that Yelich failed to reach multiple times for the first time this postseason. He also extended his hitless streak to three games. Given the game's result, he's probably OK with that.

Machado's homer wasted

Though it was lost in the sound and fury produced by the Brewers, the Dodgers were the ones who opened the scoring -- on a laser home run by Manny Machado:

Machado homered twice during the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves. He'd otherwise struggled as of late. Still, the Dodgers have to be encouraged with what he's done with his last few cuts.

Entering Friday, teams who had scored first in the postseason were darn near unbeatable.

Obviously that wasn't the case on Friday -- but that other statistic, about the teams who hit more home runs being undefeated? That remains true.

Brewers extend win streak

With their win in Game 1, the Brewers have now won 12 consecutive games. That dates back to the regular season, of course, but also includes four postseason games and the NL Central tiebreaker against the Cubs.

The Brewers won the final game of a series against the Pirates before sweeping the Cardinals and Tigers in three-game series to come back and tie the Cubs for the NL Central title. The Brewers then won the Game 163 tiebreaker to earn the No. 1 seed before sweeping the Rockies in three games after they took care of the Cubs in the Wild Card Game. That gets us to 11, and Friday's Game 1 win makes it 12.

That streak is notable for other reasons -- Milwaukee residents will be enjoying free hamburgers because of their ball club's hot play as of late.

Brewers lead 1-0

Milwaukee will head into Saturday afternoon's Game 2 with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. What does that mean, based on historical data?

According to the website WhoWins, host teams who are up 1-0 have went on to win the series 67.3 percent of the time. Those teams have also won Game 2 more than 55 percent of the time.

Should those trends hold true, then the Brewers are indeed in a good place after Game 1.

Up next

The Brewers will host the Dodgers for Game 2 on Saturday. That game will take place at 4:09 p.m. ET and will air on Fox. The Brewers will start Wade Miley, the Dodgers will counter with Hyun-Jin Ryu. You can stream the game on fuboTV (Try for free). 

Live updates

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CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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