Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw was a late scratch from Tuesday's playoff clash with the Atlanta Braves, dealing a blow to the team's hopes of a series-levelling victory.
Kershaw, one of the best pitchers of his generation, was withdrawn from game two of the National League Championship Series with back spasms.
The 32-year-old will be replaced by right-hander Tony Gonsolin for Tuesday's game at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
The pitching change comes with the Dodgers trying to rebound after losing 5-1 to the Braves in Monday's game one.
The winner of the best-of-seven series advances to the World Series.
Kershaw's withdrawal comes after a dazzling return to form during Major League Baseball's pandemic-abbreviated 60-game season. He won six and lost two and had an impressive earned run average of 2.16.
In his two postseason appearances, Kershaw pitched a three-hit shutout over eight innings against the Milwaukee Brewers in the wild card round before helping the Dodgers to victory over the San Diego Padres in the divisional round.
Kershaw, who is chasing an elusive first World Series title, has a history of back problems.
He missed his opening start of the 2020 season due to a sore back, and was also sidelined for periods of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons.