Clayton Kershaw ambled off to the dugout after 6 2/3 innings, bathed by cheers he didn’t need to hear, surrounded by Mets on the basepaths who were excited he was leaving.“It wasn’t like we stood up and cheered,” said New York manager Terry Collins. “But it’s nice to see him walk off the field with us in the lead.”The Mets led 1-0 on Daniel Murphy’s home run in the fourth inning, the one piece of meat in a riveting famine of a playoff game. At one point Kershaw and Jacob deGrom had struck out 12 of the first 21 hitters. Kershaw had 11 strikeouts in five innings. Mets batting coach Kevin Long was getting ribbed in the dugout at that point. “They were telling him it was a good plan, seeing if we could strike out enough to drive up his pitch count,” Collins said. And it worked as well as anything else. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “As I sit here right now, he might have gone a little too far,” Collins said.First, however, the Dodgers have to make sure there is a Game 4, and to do that they have to beat either Noah Syndegaard at Dodger Stadium tonight or Matt Harvey in New York on Tuesday night, neither of which will be simple.Mattingly’s rationale was to make sure Kershaw didn’t have to face Wright for the fourth time when it mattered. In the first inning, Wright treated the fans to several souvenirs, fouling off eight pitches, six with two strikes, and going through a 12-pitch at-bat that launched Kershaw on the road to bad pitch count numbers.“(Curtis) Granderson started out by putting a good move on the first pitch (and lining out),” Murphy said. “I was afraid that it would be something like an eight-pitch inning, but David went up there and battled, and it paid dividends later. Plus, he won the at-bat (with a walk).”The crucial seventh began with a walk to Lucas Duda. “Clayton was a little out of sync there,” Mattingly said. With one out, Kershaw faced shortstop Ruben Tejada, whose defense got him playing time over Wilmer Flores’ offense. Tejada had 38 walks this year. He fell behind Kershaw 0-and-2 and fouled off two pitches, then took four balls. That was the plate appearance that put the Dodgers in check, and deGrom, a former infielder at Stetson University, moved them closer to checkmate with an expert bunt that moved up the baserunners.“Then Granderson comes up with a great left-on-left walk,” Murphy said. Kershaw tightened his lips as he snatched the ball back from A.J. Ellis, following a 3-and-2 pitch, at 95 mph, that just missed. He has been through enough postseason pickles to know when things turn sour.But it was hard to lay anything on Kershaw when you saw how much horsepower was under deGrom’s hood. The first batter he faced was Carl Crawford, and he took care of him with five pitches at the following speeds: 97, 97, 97, 97 and 98.“He beat us with velocity a lot of times,” Mattingly said. “I thought we did a good job laying off the breaking balls that he wanted us to chase. But that meant he was able to get us out with high fastballs. He was good tonight, but we had some chances.’The Dodgers were 0 for 6 with men in scoring position in the first four innings. Then deGrom began mixing in some off-speed stuff (definition: 85 to 90 mph) and he retired 11 straight Dodgers and struck out the last three he faced.The question is whether Kershaw will hear any more cheers in 2015, and for what reasons. • PHOTOS: deGrom, Mets beat DodgersThis time Dodgers manager Don Mattingly lifted Kershaw to bring in reliever Pedro Baez, after Kershaw had walked three Mets, and David Wright was due to hit with two out.This decision will be second-guessed, of course, but Mattingly had perfectly sensible reasons, since Kershaw had thrown 113 pitches. The problem was not generated by Mattingly, but by a front office that had this ailment in the bullpen last year and could not find the prescription for it. Here, Baez hulked his way in, threw high-velocity fastballs, fell behind and watched Wright, one of the best Mets ever, rip a two-run single to center that put New York up 3-0 in a game it would win 3-1.deGrom left, too, after seven innings and 121 pitches. Collins had toyed with the idea of bringing back the shaggy right-hander for Game 4.