By Trevor O’Brien from NBC Sports
It was an up-and-down game, but the Dodgers did it. They beat Atlanta in a 4-3 contest to advance to the NLCS.
They went with the big gamble and started Clayton Kershaw on three days of rest. Before the game Don Mattingly talked about the decision to start their ace, “Then as we kept looking at it, it made more and more sense. If it worked out, again, if it worked out, that you’d be able to go Clayton Game 4. Then if something wouldn’t work out here, have Zack for Game 5.”
Kershaw had a typical start, as in he was awesome, but did not get good support from the rest of the team. The bats fell flat and the defense let him down.
Carl Crawford carried the team offensively, and led off the game with a bang. He hit a solo home run to right field putting the Dodgers up 1-0.
Hanley Ramirez was the only other batter to reach base until Crawford’s next at bat in the third inning. He surprised everyone with another solo home run, a drive to right field that just stayed fair.
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That was his third home run in the NLDS. In 2013 Crawford hit five home runs in his first 29 games, zero in the next 85, and six in his last five. They always said that anything can happen in playoffs, but three home runs in the NLDS was not something anybody expected.
Kershaw was cruising all game, but the Dodger defense put him into several tough situations. Adrian Gonzalez, in particular, had two errors.
He had one to start the game to put lead-off batter Jason Heyward on base, but Kershaw was able to get out of the inning.
In the fourth inning with Freddie Freeman on first base, Kershaw induced a double play ball to Gonzalez. The first basemen threw to second, but the ball ended up in the outfield.
Instead of bases empty and no outs, the Braves had two on and none out. Chris Johnson singled to left field to score one, and Andrelton Simmons grounded to third base where Juan Uribe started a double play. Mark Ellis’ throw pulled Gonzalez off the base allowing the tying run to score.
Kershaw was pulled after six innings. He gave up three hits and one walk with six strikeouts and no earned runs.
He was given a no decision, based entirely on the poor defense playing behind him. In the regular season Kershaw had 11 outings of two earned runs or less that he ended up with a loss or no decision in.
The short-rest experiment worked on Kershaw’s end, but the rest of the team could not hold up their own.
Ronald Belisario came out of the bullpen to relieve Kershaw, but only got one out before giving up hit to right field to Elliot Johnson. Puig tried to smother the ball with his body, but it got away giving Johnson a triple.
Jose Costanza singled to center field to score Johnson and give the Braves a 3-2 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Yasiel Puig led off with a double, and the Dodgers gave Juan Uribe the command to sacrifice bunt. They had six outs left and they were giving one away for free.
Uribe missed on his first two attempts, and went down in the count 0-2. Then on a 2-2 pitch he rocketed a home run to left field to put the Dodgers up 4-3.
Dodger Stadium erupted.
Kenley Jansen came in with the one run lead in the ninth and struck out Jordan Schafer, Jason Heyward, and Justin Upton to secure the win.
The Dodgers advance to the NLCS and will be facing the winning of the Cardinals versus Pirates NLDS Game 5 on Wednesday.
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Source: Santa Clarita News