Zack Greinke hurled seven scoreless innings Saturday in the Dodgers’ 3-2 win over the Cardinals that evened up the NLDS. He allowed just two hits, a total he matched in his three times at bat on the night. His third inning single — on a ball dropped perfectly into right field after Greinke showed bunt with a man on second and no outs — led to the Dodgers’ only two runs while he was in the game.
It was an exquisite showcase performance for the former Cy Young Award winner, though because J.P. Howell gave up a game-tying homer in the eighth, there was no Gatorade bath for him afterwards. That was reserved for Matt Kemp, who homered to put the Dodgers back on top in the bottom of the eighth. Greinke probably preferred it that way anyway.
Greinke came up small in his first postseason with the Brewers in 2011. A product of a costly trade with the Royals the previous winter, Greinke led the way in the regular season for Milwaukee, but then gave up 15 runs — 12 earned — over 16 2/3 innings in his three postseason starts as the Brewers lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS. He was much better last year in his first tour with the Dodgers, finishing with a 2.57 ERA in three starts before his team again fell to St. Louis in the NLCS. Still, until tonight, he had given up at least two runs in each of his six postseason starts. Tonight, he never allowed a runner past second base.
In fact, Greinke was so good that he probably forced Don Mattingly’s hand as far as starting Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 4 against the Cardinals. Doing so would allow the Dodgers to have Greinke available on normal rest for a potential Game 5, which sounds like the best recipe for winning.