LOS ANGELES (AP) Clayton Kershaw would have welcomed a little help from the umpires in the ninth inning, if only to end the game a bit sooner. When he didn’t get it, the Dodgers’ ace finished off the Braves on his own.
He scattered nine hits and struck out nine while tying his career-best winning streak of 10 games in a 2-1 victory Thursday night that completed Los Angeles’ three-game sweep of Atlanta.
”Fortunately for us a lot of times he comes out on top,” catcher A.J. Ellis said. ”He’s an amazing talent who is just as strong in the ninth as he is in the first. There’s no drop-off ever. We’re spoiled rotten.”
Kershaw (13-2) notched his second consecutive complete game for the second time in his career following his three-hit shutout at San Francisco last weekend. He is unbeaten in his last 11 starts with a 10-0 record since June 2. The left-hander beat the Braves for the first time during the regular season in his career.
”You want to be the same from the first inning to the ninth,” Kershaw said. ”I got hurt this year at the beginning, but now I feel pretty strong.”
Kershaw had to work to close out the Braves in the ninth, when he finally gave up a run. With one out, B.J. Upton singled and advanced to third on Tommy La Stella’s single. Freddie Freeman went down swinging for the second out, bringing the cheering crowd of 51,163 to its feet.
But the Braves closed to 2-1 on Justin Upton’s infield single to third.
Juan Uribe charged to field the ball and fired to first, where Adrian Gonzalez stretched for the throw. Upton was called safe by umpire Mike Estabrook. Manager Don Mattingly challenged the call as the crowd grew rowdier. Kershaw crouched behind the mound waiting for a decision.
It took 2 1-2 minutes before the umpires upheld the call, putting the potential go-ahead run on first. Evan Gattis grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
”It looked really close. The umpire got it right,” Kershaw said. ”It would have been nice to get that overturned.”
Yasiel Puig homered as the Dodgers stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games and swept the Braves for the first time since taking four in a row from July 26-29, 1990, at home. The Dodgers, who turned three double plays, moved a season-best 3 1/2 games ahead of the idle Giants in the NL West.
Julio Teheran (10-7) dueled with Kershaw, but fell behind in the first. Puig walked and scored from first when Gonzalez doubled to deep right-center field.
”I had my best and everything was working, but I made a couple of mistakes and they got two runs,” Teheran said. ”It was fun (pitching against Kershaw). I know it’s not that easy to face him, but we had a real battle out there.”
Puig extended the lead to 2-0 with his 13th homer in the third.
Teheran gave up five hits in eight innings. He struck out nine and walked three in his third complete game of the season and his first loss.
Braves: Outfielder Jason Heyward missed his third straight game with a sore back that he strained last week chasing a foul ball. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he hopes Heyward can return sometime this weekend in San Diego.
Dodgers: Left-hander Scott Elbert was outrighted to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Braves: Atlanta heads to San Diego for a three-game series beginning Friday. Left-hander Mike Minor (4-6, 5.23 ERA) will start the opener.
Dodgers: The Cubs arrive Friday for a three-game set, with Dan Haren (8-8, 4.49 ERA) taking the mound. The right-hander lost all four of his starts in July.
Justin Upton is hitting .347 with nine runs scored, six doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in 14 games since the All-Star break.
Puig has hit safely in all 11 career games against the Braves, batting .511 and that includes four postseason games. It was his 16th consecutive game hitting safely against an NL East opponent since May 2.