After a tremendous summer run, Dodger Stadium still has some magic left.
Finally shaking themselves of mounting pressure, the Dodgers took the lead behind a Juan Uribe two-run home run in the eighth inning.
After the Dodgers defeated the Braves 13-6 in game 3 of the NLDS, a considerable amount of pressure was placed on the Braves entering game 4. Win, or their season would come to an end.
Ricky Nolasco was scheduled to take the ball in game 4 for the Dodgers until it was announced early Monday afternoon he was being scratched in favor of Clayton Kershaw.
By starting game 4, Kershaw was set to pitch on only three days rest for the first time in his career. Adding to the concern, Kershaw threw 124 pitches in game 1.
The decision to start Kershaw also shifted some of the pressure away from the Braves and onto the Dodgers.
With an opportunity to close the series out at home, they had decided to place a considerable amount of their chips in winning game 4.
Kershaw pitched six innings allowing only three hits and two runs, both of which were unearned.
The Dodgers appeared to be succumbing to the pressure throughout the game with uncharacteristic fielding errors from Adrian Gonzalez, and continued failure to get timely hits.
Carl Crawford gave the Dodgers an early 2-0 lead with solo home runs in his first two plate appearances, but the Dodger bats were largely quieted until the eighth inning.
As he routinely has since reaching the big league level, Yasiel Puig provided a spark with a lead off double in the eighth inning that paved the way for Uribe’s late game heroics.
As fate would have it, the lack of execution is what led to the Dodgers capturing the lead. Uribe failed twice to get down a sacrifice bunt and with two strikes he was forced to swing the bat.
One swing later and the Dodgers saw their prospects of returning to Atlanta for a deciding game 5 turn into a one-run lead with the opportunity to reach the NLCS at their doorstep.
Entering the playoffs as the NL leaders in home runs, the Braves were only able to hit one home run in four games and struck out a total of 42 times.
Their lone home run came courtesy of Jason Heyward in the ninth inning of game 3 when it was already out of reach.
By comparison, the Dodgers hit seven home runs and struck out 35 times.
Kershaw received a no decision for his gutty performance but make no qualms about it, he’s more interested in the team’s victory.
During a post-game press conference, Kershaw said if Don Mattingly were to ask him to pitch again tomorrow, he would.
NLCS schedule (2-3-2 format)
Game 1: Friday, October 11, lower seed @ higher seed
Game 2: Saturday, October 12, lower seed @ higher seed
Game 3: Monday, October 14, higher seed @ lower seed
Game 4: Tuesday, October 15, higher seed @ lower seed
*Game 5: Wednesday, October 16, higher seed @ lower seed
*Game 6: Friday, October 18, lower seed @ higher seed
*Game 7: Saturday, October 19, lower seed @ higher seed