Clayton Kershaw fought through command issues to dominate Braves hitters and the Dodgers' offense broke out early and often against Braves starter Kris Medlen for a 6-1 victory in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Dodgers were led at the plate by Adrian Gonzalez's two-run home run and a pair of doubles from A.J. Ellis.
Kershaw, the NL Cy Young front-runner, carved up the Braves' lineup, striking out 12 and allowing just one run on three hits and three walks. The Dodgers' lefty struggled some in the middle innings, however, losing command of his fastball briefly in the third but managing to escape without allowing a run. He stumbled again in the fourth, walking Evan Gattis on four pitches following a Freddie Freeman single. Chris Johnson then gave the Braves their only run with an RBI single, cutting the lead to 5-1 at that point. Kershaw bounced back brilliantly, striking out six straight from the final out of the fourth into the sixth, but he paid for his struggles with his pitch count.
Kershaw tossed 124 pitches on the night, eight short of his career high set earlier this season and third-highest of his career. Regardless of how many pitches it took, Kershaw delivered one of the greatest postseason starts in Dodgers' history.
Most strikeouts by a Dodger in postseason game: Sandy Koufax 15 (1963 WS Gm 1), Carl Erskine 14 (1953 WS Gm 3), Clayton Kershaw 12 (tonight)— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) October 4, 2013
Reliever Kenley Jansen struck out three Braves in the final frame to seal the Dodgers victory and bring the Braves' strikeout total up to 15.
Los Angeles scored two in the second, with the runs being driven in by Skip Schumaker's sac fly and A.J. Ellis' double. Gonzalez did the most damage, a 411-foot home run to center in the third for the 4-0 lead. Mark Ellis drove in A.J. Ellis in the fifth to push the difference to five. The Dodgers chased Medlen when he allowed the first two runners of the fifth inning to reach after giving up five runs in the first four innings. Medlen allowed five runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out four.
The win gives the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five NLDS series as they prepare for the Game 2 in Atlanta tomorrow at 6 p.m. ET.