Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Clayton Kershaw put forth a Cy Young-worthy effort with a 12-strikeout performance, and behind an early offensive outburst, the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to steal home field from the Atlanta Braves with a 6-1 victory in Game 1 of this Division Series at Turner Field.
The Dodgers plated five runs over their first four turns at the plate to provide more than enough support for Kershaw (1-0), who cut down the Atlanta hitters one after another in scattering just a run on three hits over a dominant seven-inning stint.
The NL-West Champions totaled 11 hits, with nine of them coming off Kris Medlen (0-1). The Braves starter lasted just four-plus innings and was charged with five runs -- including a two-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez in the third inning that all but silenced the home crowd for the remainder of the evening.
Yasiel Puig had two hits, as did Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis, who each scored a run and finished with an RBI. Skip Schumaker contributed a sacrifice fly in the first postseason win for LA manager Don Mattingly.
"It feels good, obviously to put a win on the board really in a series, try to get that first game kind of under your belt as far as a team, not really worrying about myself so much," said Mattingly. "But feel good about putting a win on the board."
It feels good, obviously to put a win on the board really in a series, try to get that first game kind of under your belt as far as a team, not really worrying about myself so much. But feel good about putting a win on the board.
The Braves, coming off their first NL East title since their run of 14 straight ended in 2005, managed just five hits on the evening. They will look to bounce back and even the series on Friday night in Game 2.
Once Gonzalez drilled a first-pitch offering from Medlen in the third over the center-field wall to create a 4-0 cushion for LA, the contest seemed all but decided -- and it was.
Kershaw, who gave up four runs in only three of his 33 starts this season, had all the support he needed. He allowed an RBI single to Chris Johnson in the fourth, but the Dodgers still had a four-run lead thanks to Mark Ellis' run- scoring hit in the top of the frame.
The Cy Young favorite stranded runners at the corners by fanning Andrelton Simmons to end the Braves' only scoring inning, and would finish his outing in spectacular fashion by striking out nine of the last 11 batters he faced.
"It's up there," said Kershaw about where the outing ranked in his pitching career. "It's probably-- it might be the best just because it's my first postseason win. I haven't ever won a game. We got to win in one other game that I pitched that I started in, but this one definitely has special meaning to me for sure."
Medlen struck out the side in the first, but his outing began to trend in a downward spiral after giving up runs in each of the three frames that followed. His night was over without recording an out in the fifth.
Puig, whose hustle and attitude gave the Dodgers new life and turned their early struggles around upon his June call up, vaulted his team to the lead in the second. He bounced a single up the middle, broke for third on Juan Uribe's sharp liner into short center, then trotted in on Schumaker's sac fly.
Uribe moved up to second when Jason Heyward tried to get Puig at the plate, then scored easily when a charging Evan Gattis in left allowed a bloop from A.J. Ellis to roll underneath his glove and to the wall for an RBI double and 2-0 LA lead.
Medlen's outing concluded with runners on first and second and no one out in the fifth. While the Dodgers would leave the bases loaded in the frame, they struck an inning later when Hanley Ramirez capped the scoring with a double into the gap in right-center field for a 6-1 advantage.
"It's not over yet," said Simmons. "I mean that's the thing we've got to look forward to. We've got to leave this game behind and focus on the next one."
The Dodgers have won seven consecutive Division Series games dating back to 2008 ... Ramirez, making his first postseason appearance in nine seasons, ended 1-for-5 ... The Braves have lost seven straight playoff series, their last victory coming in 2001 ... Former Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones threw out the ceremonial first pitch ... The two teams last met in the postseason during the Division Series in 1996.