Braves eliminated by Dodgers
LOS ANGELES—As the celebration raged around them, Sandy Koufax sought out Clayton Kershaw in the hazy mist of the clubhouse for a hug.
Koufax, whose blazing fastball dominated baseball in the mid-1960s, removed the protective goggles from his eyes and rested his arms on Kershaw’s broad shoulders.
The Dodgers had advanced to their 10th National League championship series after a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves last night.
“To get a hug and get a ‘good job’ from a guy like that, from a guy that’s been there, from a guy that’s done this before and was the best at it for a long time, is pretty special,” said Kershaw.
The NL West champs will open the next round Friday against either St. Louis or Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals host the wild-card Pirates in a winner-take-all Game 5 tomorrow after staving off elimination earlier yesterday with a 2-1 victory.
“We’ve moved one step closer,” said Don Mattingly, managing in the playoffs for the first time.
Juan Uribe hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning after Kershaw started on short rest for the Dodgers, who reached the NLCS for the first time since 2009.
“It was a special night to get to do it here in L.A.,” said Kershaw, his hair slick from the spray of beer and champagne.
“We haven’t won anything yet but it definitely feels good to get to celebrate,” he added.
“You never want to pass those moments up.”
Carl Crawford homered his first two times up and the Dodgers won the best-of-five series 3-1.
“This does not get old,” said centre-fielded Skip Schumaker. “I love the champagne. I love the burning sensation in my eyes.
“A lot of these guys have never experienced the moving on to the next round and I’m happy for them.”
Yasiel Puig doubled down the right-field line leading off the eighth against losing pitcher David Carpenter. The rookie charged into second base and pumped his right fist in the air.
Fans were on their feet chanting “Let’s go Dodgers!” when Uribe fouled off two bunt attempts.
Then he sent a hanging 2-2 breaking ball into the Dodgers’ bullpen in left field to put them in front for the second time.
Meanwhile, it was the latest October flop for Atlanta, which hasn’t won a post-season series since 2001.
During that stretch, the Braves have lost seven-straight playoff series as well as the 2012 NL wild-card game.
“To end the way it did tonight, it’s going to hurt. It’s going to be a long way back,” admitted Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez.
“But tip your hat to the Dodgers and congratulate Donnie and his staff,” he added.
“The sad thing is there are no more games, you know?”