After a heartbreaking loss in 13 innings on Friday night, the Dodgers will look to even the series and steal home-field advantage in Game 2. Clayton Kershaw is slated to start, but has struggled against the Cardinals this season making him our X-Factor for Game 2 of the NLCS.

It may seem like the obvious choice, but given the position the Dodgers could be in with a loss, it’s the only choice. The Dodgers need Kershaw to be flawless as Zack Greinke threw eight innings while allowing just two runs on Friday and it still wasn’t enough to earn a victory.

Kershaw needs to be near-perfect to give the Dodgers that boost and tie the series. The Dodgers’ left-hander was brilliant in the NLDS, but must be even better in Game 2. Also, the Dodgers used every pitcher in the bullpen except for Carlos Marmol and Edinson Volquez, so Kershaw will be counted on to give the bullpen a rest.

Against the Cardinals this season, Kershaw was 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA, although he did throw six innings of two-run ball in his only start at Busch Stadium this season. The Dodgers will be going against rookie Michael Wacha, who threw 7.1 hitless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLDS, so runs may be at a premium.

The NL West champions need their ace to shut the Cardinals down and need to provide him with run support. Last night, the Dodgers left 11 men on base and only had one hit with runners in scoring position, which needs to change if they have any chances of winning this afternoon.

Heading into Game 2, the Dodgers must shake off the feelings from the loss last night and come out firing for a victory.

Look for Kershaw to deliver.

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In case you missed it, here’s what Don Mattingly had to say on Wednesday before the NLCS started.

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