Fresh off a 13-6 victory last night, the Dodgers shocked many with the announcement that Clayton Kershaw, not Ricky Nolasco would start Game 4 on three-days rest.
Kershaw took the mound after his 124 pitch performance on Thursday night and an Adrian Gonzalez error to start the night didn’t do him any favors. Justin Upton gave Kershaw a gift as he tried to get on base via a bunt base-hit, but popped it out for the first out of the inning. Freddie Freeman struck out and Evan Gattis battled before grounding out to third and Kershaw was through his first inning of work.
In the bottom of the first, Carl Crawford did what he did last night and homered to deep right and the Dodgers were on top from the start, 1-0.
Garcia and Kershaw settled into a nice groove in the second inning as both made quick work of the opposition, despite a single by Chris Johnson to break-up Kershaw’s no-hitter (yes I went there). In the third, Garcia sent one to the warning track, but Crawford tracked it down.
Looking much better than he did in Game 1 with his command, Kershaw retired Heyward and Upton, completing another 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom of the third, Kershaw started the inning with a strikeout, but Crawford came up looking to do some serious damage.
Crawford took a 2-2 pitch from Garcia deep down the right field line and gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. However, the Dodgers defense would rear it’s ugly head as they committed another error in the top of the fourth.
Chris Johnson had an RBI single and a routine double play ball only turned into one out as Mark Ellis threw wide to first and just like that, the Braves tied things at two.
Garcia and Kershaw traded zeroes in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth as the two teams were tied at two halfway through Game 4. As things progressed, Garcia and Kershaw kept firing zeroes and after 91 pitches and six innings, the Dodgers Cy Young hopeful was done.
The Dodgers got exactly what they needed from their ace, but two unearned runs came back to bite them as Kershaw will pick up another no-decision. Meanwhile, Garcia got into trouble in the sixth inning, but retired A.J. Ellis on a ground out to third as Ronald Belisario came on for the Dodgers in the seventh inning.
With Belisario on the mound, the Braves took the lead after Elliot Johnson tripled down the right field line and Jose Constanza singled to center and the Braves pulled ahead, 3-2.
J.P. Howell got out of the jam in the seventh inning, but in the bottom of the inning, the Dodgers wasted yet another opportunity to tie things up. Mark Ellis doubled to the left center field gap and the Braves decided to intentionally walked Hanley to get to Gonzalez to get the lefty-lefty matchup with two outs.
Braves reliever Luis Avilan threw three straight balls, but battled back to make it a 3-2 count. Gonzalez got a hanging breaking ball, but was out in front and flied to right to end the threat.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Dodgers finally got what they were waiting for as Puig lead off the inning with a double and after two failed bunt attempts, Uribe sent a ball into orbit and gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead. Kenley Jansen came on in the 9th inning and retired the side as the Dodgers are heading back to the NLCS for the first time since 2009.
Mattingly’s decision to start Kershaw was the right decision, but ultimately it was Puig and Uribe that led the charge in the eighth inning. See you Friday!
In case you missed it, here’s the hit that sent the Dodgers to the NLCS.