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Dodgers attempt to close out Braves and move on to NLCS
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Dodgers are going for it.
In an effort to close out the National League Division Series, the Dodgers will turn to left-hander Clayton Kershaw on short rest to put the finishing touches on the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles had been slated to hand the ball to righty Ricky Nolasco, but has opted to go with Kershaw, who was brilliant in Game 1 but has never pitched on three days' rest.
Kershaw gave the Dodgers an early lead in this series with a magnificent effort on Thursday that saw him allow a run and three hits in seven innings. He also struck out 12 batters in that one and threw 124 pitches.
"This isn't about me, this is about the team," Nolasco said on Sunday. "Whatever decision they make is going to be the best decision for the team. So I'm with whatever. They're the ones who get paid to make those decisions. So I'll be here ready to take the ball whenever they ask me to pitch."
The decision to go back to Kershaw wasn't all that hard as he is likely headed toward a second NL Cy Young Award after a season that saw him lead the league with a minuscule 1.83 ERA. He was 6-2 with a 1.61 ERA in his last nine regular season starts and finished 16-9 with an NL-best 232 strikeouts.
Nolasco, meanwhile, was acquired during the season from the Miami Marlins and began his Dodgers career by going 8-1 with a 2.07 ERA over his first 12 starts. However, he struggled down the stretch, going 0-2 with an 11.77 ERA over his final five appearances.
Los Angeles moved to the brink of the NLCS on Sunday, as Hanley Ramirez finished a home run shy of the cycle while knocking in two runs and scoring three times and the Dodgers used a pair of four-run frames in a 13-6 rout.
Carl Crawford clubbed a three-run homer and scored three times, Juan Uribe belted a two-run shot and scored twice, and Yasiel Puig collected three hits, two RBI and three runs scored for the Dodgers, who bounced back from Friday's 4-3 setback to take a 2-1 lead in this best-of-five set.
LA's offensive outburst offset a shaky postseason debut from rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu, who allowed four runs on six hits in just three innings of work.
Fellow left-hander Chris Capuano (1-0) came on in relief and kept Atlanta at bay, spinning three hitless innings to pick up the win.
"Cappy (Capuano) was the key to settling the game down," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Crawford's home run was huge for us. It's one win. It's over. We have a chance to close it out tomorrow night."
History appears to be on the side of the Dodgers, as teams that have taken a 2-1 lead into Game 4 of a Division Series have advanced to the League Championship Series round 35 times in 43 opportunities, 17 of 20 in the NLDS.
The Dodgers did most of their damage against Atlanta starter Julio Teheran (0-1), tagging the rookie right-hander for six runs on eight hits over 2 2/3 frames.
"I didn't have my best," Teheran admitted. "It was one of those games. I made a couple of mistakes that I had to pay for. I think I tried to do too much."
Jason Heyward hit a two-run homer and Chris Johnson drove in two runs for the Braves, who will rely on right-hander Freddy Garcia to save their season on Monday.
A September callup who nearly retired, Garcia carries some postseason experience into this start, having gone 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA in past performances for the Mariners, White Sox and Yankees.
"You start looking at the rotation and see how young they are and how inexperienced they are, then you look at Freddy Garcia's experience, you look at his postseason starts and postseason innings, so you give him an opportunity to do that," Gonzalez said. "I think he knows how to maneuver himself through a Major League lineup. He's shown that this year."
Overall with the Baltimore Orioles and Braves, Garcia was 4-7 this season with a 4.37 ERA. However, he did pitch to a 1.83 ERA once being inserted into the Braves' rotation.
Atlanta won five of its seven regular-season matchups with the Dodgers this season. However, these teams haven't met in the postseason since the Braves swept the NLDS back in 1996.
Game 5 of this series, if necessary, will be in Atlanta on Wednesday.
10/07 15:58:02 ET
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