If another Dodger has treated the Mets as rudely as Chase Utley, it’s Clayton Kershaw, and he was superb in keeping them at bay for the better part of eight innings Sunday night.
It seemed the Mets got the break they needed when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts lifted Kershaw over his protest with two out in the eighth. Curtis Granderson then tied the score with a run-scoring triple to rightfield off lefthanded reliever Adam Liberatore.
But that joy was short-lived for a sellout Citi Field crowd of 42,287. Mets closer Jeurys Familia came on in the top of the ninth in a tie game and struggled just as he did Friday night, when he blew a four-run lead before Granderson’s home run in the bottom of the ninth won it. This time, Familia just flat blew it, allowing a two-run single by Adrian Gonzalez that gave the Dodgers a 4-2 victory.
Familia surrendered a leadoff single to Kike Hernandez and walked Corey Seager and Justin Turner to load the bases with one out before Gonzalez stroked his game-winning hit. Familia got out of the inning with a double play, but the damage was done.
Although Kershaw split two decisions against the Mets in last season’s NLDS, his regular-season mastery against them was daunting with a 7-0 record and 1.17 ERA in 10 career starts. So it seemed shocking when Granderson greeted him with a leadoff double over centerfielder Joc Pederson. Granderson advanced to third on a groundout, but Kershaw got out of the situation with strikeouts of Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker.
That began a stretch of 11 straight Mets outs before Walker’s two-out double in the fourth. But that threat ended when Kershaw struck out Juan Lagares for the second time, running his total to seven at that point.
Bartolo Colon (4-4) was his usual reliable self, but it was going to take near-perfection to beat Kershaw. Colon kept the Dodgers at bay for two innings, but Mets nemesis Chase Utley, who was fresh off his five-RBI performance Saturday night, served Mets fans another dose of bile with a one-out single to right for the Dodgers’ first hit. Utley moved to third on a single by Corey Seager and scored on Justin Turner’s forceout to make it 1-0.
Ironically, the play on which Utley scored was reviewed by the umpiring crew to determine if Seager had violated the slide rule implemented this year and nicknamed for Utley, who broke the leg of former Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada with a slide. But the umpires ruled it was not a violation, and Utley’s run counted.
Even that sliver of an advantage seemed mountainous with Kershaw on the mound, and the Dodgers added another run in the fifth. After recording two quick groundouts to start the inning, Colon surrendered three straight singles to Seager, Turner and Adrian Gonzalez, the last of which made it 2-0.
Colon made it through a scoreless sixth and left after giving up seven hits. In the bottom of the sixth, the Mets drew a breath of air when Asdrubal Cabrera got his bat on a 1-and-2 curveball and drove it just over the fence in left-center for a home run that made it 2-1.
But their boom-or-bust style left Kershaw unfazed. He recorded his 10th strikeout in the seventh when he got Lagares for the third time. But the narrative changed for the Dodgers the instant Kershaw left the game.
Notes & quotes: Terry Collins said Noah Syndergaard, who was ejected in the third inning Saturday night, might be available for an inning of relief tomorrow but still will make his regular start Friday in Miami . . . Collins expects newly acquired first baseman James Loney to be in the lineup tomorrow against the White Sox.