Kershaw does it all in Dodgers’ 4-1 win over Braves
ATLANTA (AP) — Clayton Kershaw had everything working his way, even delivering a big moment with his bat.
Kershaw pitched 7 2/3 strong innings, added a two-run single and reached a career-high four times, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 4-1 on Friday night.
Kershaw (4-5) was his usual dominant self on the mound, allowing one run and six hits and striking out eight. The three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP is 4-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 10 career starts against the Braves.
He surprised the capacity crowd at SunTrust Park by doubling down the left-field line to put Los Angeles up 4-1 in the fourth.
“I was super late and got fortunate,” Kershaw said. “He was throwing 100 mph, or that’s what it felt like. I just happened to stick my bat out there and get lucky on one.”
The inside-out swing that scored Matt Kemp and Chris Taylor didn’t draw too loud of a reaction from the fans, but they had seen enough in the eighth when Kershaw walked for the third time. Atlanta reliever Jesse Biddle was showered with boos.
“Relievers aren’t used to facing pitchers,” said Kershaw, the first Dodgers pitcher since Don Sutton in 1976 to walk three times in a game. “It’s not always easy to throw strikes to a guy that you know has no business being in the batter’s box.”
Los Angeles has won two straight, improving its NL-best road record to 30-22. The Dodgers are 32-16 overall since June 1, tops in the NL over that span.
The Braves have lost three straight and 12 of 17. They were in first place for all but two days from May 2-July 10, but the loss kept them 2½ games behind Philadelphia in the NL East.
Kershaw departed in the eighth, the deepest he’s pitched in a game this season, with two runners on before closer Kenley Jansen got the last four outs to earn his 30th save in 33 chances. Freddie Freeman flew out to end the eighth, and Jansen faced the minimum in the ninth.
“It’s always a nice feeling as a starter to finish a game, but the next best thing is to give it straight to the big man,” Kershaw said. “He did a good job, bailed me out in the eighth with Freddie up and preserved that win.”
Mike Foltynewicz (7-7) lost for the third time in his last four starts, giving up four runs, six hits and three walks and striking out eight in five innings. A first-time All-Star, Foltynewicz owns a 6.94 ERA and has allowed four homers in his last four outings.
Alex Verdugo tied it at 1-all in the third with his second career homer. Foltynewicz, appearing upset with himself for giving up the lead, immediately walked Kershaw on five pitches and seemed agitated the rest of the night.
“I’ve been inconsistent this whole July, so I’ll just have to pick it up in August,” Foltynewicz said. “We’re playing for October so it’s going to be an exciting few months here.”
Yasmani Grandal hit his 17th homer to begin the fourth and has a .389 average with six homers and 14 RBIs in 19 games this month. The Dodgers lead the NL with 142 homers, 101 of them solo shots.
After missing 15 games with a right oblique strain, Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig arrived Friday in Atlanta and will return from the disabled list on Saturday. Manager Dave Roberts gave Puig the night off to spend time with his mother. Puig will likely be in Saturday’s lineup, but Roberts added that the club will use a rotation going forward so that Puig, Kemp, Pederson and Verdugo get enough rest. Roberts also gives Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez starts in the outfield, too.
“I think if I can keep them fresh, they’ll perform better, and if they’re mad at me, they’ll still perform better,” Roberts said.
Roberts added that LHP Julio Urias, nearly recovered from major shoulder surgery sidelined him over a year, will be used in relief when he returns next month. ... 3B Justin Turner did some lateral running and took some swings in batting practice. He’s missed five games with a right groin strain.
LHP Jonny Venters, after three Tommy John procedures and four elbow surgeries overall, was back in a Braves uniform for the first time since 2012, pitching a scoreless sixth. The 33-year-old returned to the majors earlier this year with Tampa Bay, making his first appearance in six years. Atlanta acquired him in a trade Thursday night. Venters said his stuff isn’t as dominant as it used to be, but he was delighted to get a chance to pitch for his old team just 15 miles from his family’s home in Suwanee, Georgia.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (6-5, 3.87 ERA) is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his last four starts.
Braves: LHP Max Fried (1-3, 3.92) will come off the disabled list for the first time since July 5. Fried will face the Dodgers for the first time.
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