ATLANTA -- Clayton Kershaw allowed one run on three hits over seven innings, running up his pitch count in the early innings, but looking like the most dominating pitcher in the league over the final three innings.
He struck out six consecutive batters at one point (Tim Belcher had seven in the 1988 World Series), fanned eight of the last 11 he faced and finished with 12, second most by a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher in the postseason behind Sandy Koufax's 15 in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series.
Kershaw threw 124 pitches, so he won't be back for Game 4. If there is a Game 5, he would start it on five days' rest.
Now that the Dodgers ace is out of the way, the Braves get to face Zack Greinke in Game 2 on Friday at 6 p.m. The Dodgers can take the series back to Los Angeles with a commanding lead and nothing worse than a split.
Before Kershaw settled in, an offense that could have stumbled without Kemp and Ethier instead punished Braves ace Kris Medlen, who didn't make it out of the fifth inning.
Adrian Gonzalez slugged a two-run homer, A.J. Ellis had a pair of doubles, rookie Yasiel Puig reached base three times and scored the first run and Skip Schumaker, filling in for the injured pair of center fielders, had a sacrifice fly for the Dodgers, who lost five of seven regular-season games to the Braves this year.
But those Dodgers were an injury-riddled last place team when they played the Braves in the first half. Now they're an injury-riddled division champion. Hanley Ramirez, who didn't play in any of those seven games, played in this one and had an RBI double. And Kershaw never started any of those games.
The NL Cy Young favorite outpitched Medlen in this one, but he had to battle as his pitch count was already 77 through four innings and 91 through five. But he found his breaking ball as the game progressed and was able to hand off a comfortable lead to the bullpen.
Former Lookout Kenley Jansen finished the Braves in the ninth with three strikeouts, working around a walk and a hit.
2013 Lookout Yasiel Puig got it started with a one-out single up the middle in the second inning, then was nearly picked off on four attempts by Medlen. Juan Uribe sent a soft liner over the glove of leaping shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Puig hesitated to be sure the ball cleared Simmons, then exploded around second base and hustled to third with no throw as center fielder Jason Heyward couldn't grip the ball.
With runners on the corners, Puig scored on a sacrifice fly by Schumaker, and on Heyward's throw home Uribe took second. Ellis then pulled a sinking liner that eluded the diving attempt of left fielder Evan Gattis, as Uribe scored the second run.
Gattis had more trouble in the bottom of the second after reaching first on a bloop single that landed between Puig in right field and second baseman Mark Ellis. With one out, Chris Johnson flied to right and Gattis got lost in space, unable to return to first before Puig's two-hop toss doubled him off.
Carl Crawford led off the third with a one-hopper at the feet of second baseman Elliot Johnson for what was generously scored a single. With Medlen distracted by Crawford at first base, Gonzalez blasted a first-pitch changeup for a two-run homer to center.
The Dodgers extended the lead in the fourth on A.J. Ellis' second double, a two-out walk by Crawford and a Mark Ellis single that scored A.J. Ellis, with Crawford taking third and Mark Ellis second on the throw home.
The Braves struggled to get runners in scoring position against Kershaw, but they worked his pitch count up and finally scored in the fourth inning. Freddie Freeman singled, Gattis walked, Brian McCann sent Crawford to the wall to haul down his liner for the second out, but Johnson singled past Ramirez for the first Atlanta run.
But Medlen allowed a single to Gonzalez leading off the fifth, then hit Puig in the back with a pitch and Medlen was done, charged with five runs, one more than he allowed for the entire month of September, when he was the NL Pitcher of the Month.
---- Source: MLB.com