Braves rally to snap Dodgers' winning streak, 4-3
All good things must come to an end, only no one saw it happening quite like this.
If any of the recent games during the Dodgers’ hot streak appeared like certain victory, it was Sunday’s in Atlanta.
Their Big Two -– Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp -– again teamed up to provide what at least looked to be a comfortable lead. Kemp’s three-run homer in the third off rookie Randall Delgado appeared to give Kershaw all the run support he would need.
Through six innings, Kershaw absolutely dominated the Braves, holding them scoreless on five hits with nine strikeouts.
Money in the bank. Of course, sometimes even banks fail.
Kershaw blinked in the seventh to allow the Braves to tie it, and then win in the bottom of the ninth against Blake Hawksworth on Martin Prado’s two-out, full-count single for a 4-3 victory.
That Atlanta comeback snapped the Dodgers’ season-high, six-game winning streak. They had also won 11 of their last 12.
But after beating out a bunt for a single in the top of the seventh and then running the bases, Kershaw seemed to tire in the bottom half as a light rain began to fall.
One-out singles by Alex Gonzalez and Jack Wilson preceded a sharp bouncer by Jose Constanza to third baseman Aaron Miles. It had the makings of a possible double play -- except that Miles threw wide of second base, pulling Justin Sellers off the bag.
The error allowed Gonzalez to score and left Wilson and Constanza safe at first and second. Where they remained only until Kershaw unleashed a wild pitch.
That proved costly when pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad dropped a broken-bat, two-run single into center to tie it.
Kershaw finished the inning, leaving his ERA at 2.45. In his seven innings, he allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits. He struck out 10 and did not walk a batter.
It was the first time Kershaw did not receive a decision in 14 consecutive starts. In his last 10 starts, he was 9-1 with a 1.18 ERA.
The Braves had been pitching around Kemp throughout the series, but with runners at second and third, and first base open in the third, they elected to pitch to him. Bad idea. Kemp crushed his 32nd home run of the season to give Kershaw his 3-0 lead, which seemed pretty substantial at the time.
In the bottom of the ninth, Constanza singled with one out and took second on a Hawksworth wild pitch. Hawksworth (2-5) intentionally walked Chipper Jones and got Michael Bourn to fly out, before Prado lined his game-winning single.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is congratulated at home plate by shortstop Dee Gordon after hitting a three-run home run against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday. Credit: John Amis / Associated Press