The Los Angeles Dodgers are one victory away from their third consecutive trip to the National League Championship Series Saturday thanks to what manager Dave Roberts called one of Clayton Kershaw’s “best outings that I’ve seen.”
Kershaw limited the Atlanta Braves to two hits and one other baserunner over eight innings Friday in a 3-0 victory at Dodger Stadium that gave the Dodgers a two games to none lead in a National League Division Series
Game 3 of the best-of-five series is scheduled for Sunday at SunTrust Field in Cumberland, Georgia.
“He used his complete repertoire of pitches,” Roberts said. “He used both sides of the plate. He changed eye levels effectively. And he really pitched. And so with that, there was a lot of soft contact. He was in complete control.”
Kershaw did not walk a batter, struck out three and needed only 85 pitches for eight innings.
Kershaw allowed a leadoff double to Ronald Acuna Jr. Acuna moved to third on Johan Camargo’s ground out. Kershaw got Freddie Freeman to ground out to second baseman Kike Hernandez, then struck out Nick Markakis to end the inning.
“I was fortunate to get out of that,” Kershaw said. “Kike made a nice play on Freddie there. And fortunate to get Markakis there.”
Ender Inciarte ended Kershaw’s streak of 14 consecutive batters retired with a single with two outs in the fifth. The next batter, former Dodger Charlie Culberson, grounded out to end the inning.
Kershaw hit pinch-hitter Lane Adams with a pitch leading off the sixth. Kershaw got Acuna to ground into a force out and Camargo to hit into a double play to end the sixth.
Kershaw retired Atlanta in order in the seventh and eighth innings.
Kershaw took the mound to start the ninth, but many in the capacity crowd of 54,452 booed when Roberts walked out to take Kershaw out of the game in favor of reliever Kenley Jansen after Tyler Flowers was announced as the pinch-hitter for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino.
“It’s just more forcing Brian’s hand,” Roberts said, referring to Braves manager Brian Snitker. “If they would have brought (Lucas) Duda up there to face Clayton, he was going to face him.
“But for them to burn two players for one move, I felt that that was a way that you can use their two best hitters off the bench and get our guy in there.”
Roberts said he did not give “a whole lot” of consideration to allowing Kershaw to finish the game.
“He took a ball I think in the sixth inning maybe, off the hamstring, and so as the game progressed, it continued to tighten up a little bit,” Roberts said.
“And so for me, I thought — obviously he had really good stuff — but then as you get to the sixth, the seventh, and the eighth inning, and understanding that the potential that it is tightening up, I felt we had a pretty good option in Kenley back there.”
Roberts said Kershaw did not try to persuade him to let him continue pitching.
“I think that he understood the way I was thinking,” Roberts said. “And I understand that … it’s great to finish a game, and every pitcher that starts a game wants to finish a game.
“But our goal is to win 11 games. And so I just felt that it was the right decision, and Clayton is 100 percent on board with what we’re doing, and he wants to win a championship.
“So in my opinion this gives us the best chance to get him ready for his next start and us to win that baseball game.”
No Dodger pitcher pitched a complete game during the regular season.
Kershaw is a combined 6-0 against Atlanta in the regular season and postseason.
The Dodgers joined the 1921 New York Yankees as the only teams with shutouts in their first two games of a single postseason.
Machado hit a 3-0 cutter from Anibal Sanchez an estimated 386 feet over the left field fence. Yasmani Grandal ended an 0-for-20 postseason streak with a fifth-inning solo homer off Sanchez that was estimated to travel 419 feet.
All but one of the Dodgers nine runs in the NLDS has come via the home run.
Jansen allowed a one-out single to Acuna, then got Camargo to pop out and struck out Freeman for the save.
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