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Clayton Kershaw, Yasmani Grandal help Dodgers leave Atlanta on winning note

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You'd smile too if you had a .609 on-base percentage.
You'd smile too if you had a .609 on-base percentage.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

I was dreaming when I wrote this recap, forgive me if it goes astray.

On a day dominated by starting pitchers and missed opportunities on offense, red hot Yasmani Grandal doubled off the wall against Alexi Ogando in the 10th inning to score Kike Hernandez, giving the Dodgers a second straight extra-inning win over the Braves, this one 2-1 on getaway day on Thursday afternoon at Turner Field.

Nothing has compared to Grandal since coming back from offseason shoulder surgery. He didn't even start behind the plate on Thursday, but still managed to walk and double in his only two plate appearances. Grandal has reached base in each of his last six games, with at least one walk in each of those contests.

In just 23 plate appearances this season, Grandal is tied for the team lead in both doubles (four) and walks (seven). His on-base percentage is .609.

It was amazing that the game even got to 10 innings, given how it started and given that the Dodgers left 13 runners on base during the game.

The first two batters of the game against Clayton Kershaw doubled for a run, and the first seven hitters were 5-for-7, but somehow the Dodgers ace managed to last eight innings, the first time in his career Kershaw has lasted at least seven innings in each of his first four starts of the season.

Maybe Kershaw is just too demanding.

After the Braves loaded the bases with nobody out in the second inning, Kershaw became Dr. Everything'll Be Alright. He prevented Atlanta from adding a run by first striking out Mallex Smith, then getting pitcher Matt Wisler to hit into a double play, which began with a tremendous stop at second base by Chase Utley.

In his 14th year in the majors, Utley has been rejuvenated this season, even at age 37 looking so educated he'll never grow old.

Kershaw righted the ship relying mostly on his fastball, though before anyone could ask, "Baby have you got enough gas?" he did try to mix in the slowest of slow curveballs, to Tyler Flowers in the fourth inning.

With 10 strikeouts, Kershaw fanned double digits for the 43rd time in his career, and first of 2016.

He also allowed 10 hits, one shy of his career high, becoming the first Dodgers pitcher to allow 10 or more hits and strike out 10 or more batters since Hideo Nomo on Aug. 1, 1997.

But Wisler kept the Braves in it by matching Kershaw or the most part, pitching into the seventh inning. Just 10 months removed from his major league debut, the 23-year-old right-hander proved that you don't need experience to turn one out, striking out six while allowing just one unearned run.

In the bottom of the sixth, a potential Braves rally was snuffed out thanks to Freddie Freeman's slide into second base blocked by Utley, an out call Atlanta couldn't review having already used their challenge. A misplay in right field gave the Braves another runner in scoring position, but Kershaw struck out Jeff Francoeur to end the threat.

The Dodgers got a gift of their own in the top of the seventh, beginning with a two-out drive by Kershaw that was dropped by Smith in center field as he collided with the right fielder Francoeur. Two batters later, Corey Seager singled to right field but Kershaw was called out at home.

Despite replays that seemed to show Kershaw touch home plate before getting tagged by the catcher Flowers, replay officials determined there was nothing conclusive to overturn the call. The Dodgers were probably wondering, "You've got the horn so why don't you blow it?" but for the time they couldn't get on top.

The Dodgers threatened again in the ninth inning with a one-out double by Utley, but he was stranded.


Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and a walk, reaching base four times for the second time this season and the 94th time in his career.

Joc Pederson, who struck out to end the ninth-inning rally after Gonzalez was intentionally walked, had two hits on his 24th birthday, and the first start batting cleanup in his career.

Chris Hatcher pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the win, and since returning from the paternity list has retired all 13 batters he's faced.

After nine straight games wearing "Dodgers" road jerseys to open the 2016 season, the Dodgers wore gray "Los Angeles" uniforms on Thursday.

Up next

The Dodgers move on to Denver for a weekend series against the Rockies, hoping to avoid a purple reign with Scott Kazmir starting the opener on Friday night at Coors Field. After opening the year on the disabled list, Jon Gray will start for Colorado.

Thursday particulars

Home runs: none

WP - Chris Hatcher (2-1): 3 up, 3 down

LP - Alexi Ogando (1-1): 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 2 strikeouts

Sv - Kenley Jansen (7): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout