Vincent Bonsignore: Greinke, Gonzalez, Jansen keep Dodgers alive

first_img“I’ve got a $10 bet on it,” he said. “So it’s important.”Whatever it takes, right? After spending most of his career in laid-back San Diego and putting up huge numbers far removed from the national radar, Adrian Gonzalez was finally hoisted onto the big stage and delivered a signature moment for everyone to witness.And when pushed to the limit, Kenley Jansen emphatically said enough is enough.Greinke redeemed himself. Gonzalez introduced himself.Jansen, well, he just lived to tell about it.As for the Dodgers, they resurrected themselves in a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Championship series Wednesday at sun-splashed Dodger Stadium to avoid elimination and extend their season at least one more game.They aren’t out of the woods yet, the Cardinals still holding a 3-2 lead as the best-of-7 series shifts back to St. Louis for the final leg.But with Cy Young Award Clayton Kershaw taking the hill in Game 6 on Friday, all of a sudden the possibility of pushing the Cardinals to a seventh game is very, very real.And we all know crazy things can happen in a deciding game.Oh, did we mention the Cardinals coughed up a 3-1 lead to the San Francisco Giants last year in the NLCS?It can’t happen again, can it?Why not?“We know what we have in the clubhouse,” Carl Crawford said. “We believe in ourselves. We trust one another.”They did on Wednesday, reporting back to work stubborn and unyielding after a chilling 4-2 setback in Game 4 the night before hurled them into this mess.But comforted by the confidence that Greinke and Kershaw were lined up to breathe new life into their fading World Series hopes, and comfortable in the role of underdog after yielding all pressure to the Cardinals, the Dodgers played free and easy and finally found the big hits and critical outs that previously eluded them.“To be honest with you, I just think guys weren’t ready to lose today,” Crawford said.And now they head back to St. Louis, where one of the best pitchers in baseball takes the mound for them in the biggest game of his career Friday.“Not one of the best,” Gonzalez corrected. “The best.”Kershaw will have a worldwide audience to prove just that.Thanks to Greinke, who shook off another odd inning in which he coughed up a two-run lead immediately after being handed it — he did the same thing in Game 1 — to go into lockdown mode and give the Dodgers ample time to reboot and rebuild a lead.Greinke’s déjà vu moment occurred in the top of the third inning, or right after he and Juan Uribe stroked RBI singles in the bottom of the second to stake him to a 2-0 lead.But just like in Game 1, his old nemesis, Carlos Beltran, drilled an RBI triple off the center-field fence followed by an RBI double by Matt Holliday and all of a sudden the score was tied 2-2.Greinke stood on the mound thinking, not this again.“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t know why that happened, but it was the same part of the lineup too, I think. Beltran, same thing.” His failure to hold the lead in Game 1 resulted in a 13-inning marathon ultimately won by the Cardinals, mostly the result of the Dodgers’ horrendous habit of abandoning runners in scoring position.But with losing not an option Wednesday, the Dodgers went right back to work.Gonzalez played the most prominent role, blasting a solo home run in the bottom of the third to put the Dodgers ahead 3-2 — removing Greinke from the hook in the process — then drilling another home run in the eighth inning to push the lead to 6-2.Dodgers fans have come to expect such heroics from Gonzalez, but aside from his hometown San Diego Padre fans, who enjoyed him for five seasons, it’s a side of Gonzalez most of baseball is unfamiliar with.His short time in Boston yielded no playoff appearances and San Diego was not an adequate media market.So he went about his business efficiently but quietly, his hitting brilliance underappreciated on a mass level.That is changing with the high-profile Dodgers in the playoffs, and his two home runs were an emphatic statement of his skill set.More importantly, with the Dodgers down Matt Kemp and with Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier fighting compromising injuries, it’s a Gonzalez they’ve desperately needed.“It seems that he’s kind of stepped up here,” Dodger manager Don Mattingly said. “Maybe the fact that Hanley has not been able to do what he’s been doing in the past, and Adrian maybe feels that responsibility.”On Wednesday, he delivered with a home run to put them back in the lead and another that helped them survive Jansen’s uneven ninth.And yes, he punctuated both by flashing double-fisted Mickey Mouse ears gestures — much to the anger of the Cardinals, who don’t take kindly to the Dodgers’ glitzy celebrations this series.Nothing personal, according to Gonzalez. Just good, clean postseason fun.“You’re in the playoffs. You’ve got to have fun. If you’re not having fun in the playoffs, then you don’t deserve to be here,” Gonzalez said. “Just enjoying every moment of it.”The Dodgers hope to enjoy of few more of them this weekend.It’s off to St. Louis now, and what awaits them is anyone’s guess.All they know is they got there.And with Kershaw pitching Game 6 on Friday, the possibilities are endless. When given a second chance to be the ace he was paid to be, Zack Greinke didn’t disappoint.And now maybe the Dodgers will play long enough for Greinke’s fantasy football league team to climb out of the cellar.“I’ve got a bet that I won’t be in last place by the time the season’s over,” Greinke said. “So I needed (the season) to go to Sunday for that.”The next time you hear someone say it isn’t about the money, think about Greinke and his obsession with fantasy football.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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