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Carl Crawford has reasons to smile

Crawford hit one home run in his final 87 games of the regular season, and doubled that in Monday's win over the Braves.

Harry How

LOS ANGELES -- Monday night was a night of celebration at Dodger Stadium, thanks in part to a pair of high-priced busts who have had renaissance seasons in 2013. Juan Uribe's feel-good story is amazing, and continued with his two-run, game-winning home run in the eighth inning, but it was Carl Crawford who set the tone early.

On Monday, Crawford hit a home run in the first inning, joining Davey Lopes as the only Dodgers to hit a leadoff home run in a postseason game. Then in the third inning he added another, both no-doubters off of Freddy Garcia.

"The smile on his face when he hit that homer," said manager Don Mattingly after the game. "When he came in the dugout after hitting that homer, what a great feeling. He's had a rough couple of years, but he's been great."

Crawford signed a seven-year, $142 million contract with the Red Sox before the 2011 season and hit just .260/.292/.419 combined in a pair of injury-plagued seasons before his contact was included as part of the cost for the Dodgers wanting first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

"It feels good," Crawford said after the game, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. "It's amazing what can happen in a year."

Crawford hit .282/.329/.407 in 116 games in his first season with the Dodgers, but was on fire in the four-game NLDS. He hit .353 (6-for-17) with three home runs and five RBI in the series, and dating back to the regular season has hit .378 (14-for-37) with seven extra-base hits in his last nine games.

And on Monday Crawford is a big reason why the Dodgers are in the NLCS, the first team to join the next round just as they were the first team to make the playoffs.

"I just want to keep playing well," Crawford said, again per Shaikin. "We've got two rounds to go."