With Kershaw Pitching, Dodgers Look To Take 2-0 Lead Over Braves

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to take a two games to none lead in their National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves tonight at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers opened the best-of-five series with a 6-0 victory Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, with Hyun-Jin Ryu limiting the Braves to four hits over seven innings and Max Muncy hitting a three-run homer in the second.

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw will pitch for the Dodgers against right- hander Anibal Sanchez.

Kershaw was the Dodgers' starting pitcher to open the postseason each of the past five seasons, but manager Dave Roberts said the decision to have Ryu start Game 1 and Kershaw Game 2 “was more of just trying to appreciate that both games have equal importance, and what we can do to put both pitchers in the best position to succeed.”

“When you look at it and giving each guy one extra day of rest as opposed to Hyun-Jin and Clayton on regular rest and then you look at Game 3, Walker (Buehler) on an extra day, made more sense to us,” Roberts said.

Kershaw was 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA during the regular season, fourth in the NL. He was 6-1 after the All-Star break, and second in the league with fewest walks per nine innings, 1.26.

Kershaw was credited with the victory in his only appearance against the Braves this season, a 4-1 victory July 27 at SunTrust Park where he allowed one run and six hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out eight and not walking a batter.

With Kershaw Pitching, Dodgers Look To Take 2-0 Lead Over Braves

Kershaw is 4-0 with a 1.73 ERA against Atlanta in the regular season and 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in the postseason.

Sanchez was 7-6 with a 2.83 record during the regular season. He was 1- 1 with a 4.63 ERA against the Dodgers. The 34-year-old signed with the Braves during spring training, five days after being released by the Minnesota Twins.

The Dodgers are 17-6 against Atlanta at Dodger Stadium since the start of the 2013 season, including a 3-0 record in the postseason.

The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Bill Russell, the shortstop of the Dodgers record-setting 1973-81 infield, and the team's manager from 1996-98. The national anthem will be sung by Mia Sinclair Jenness, a voice on the Disney Junior animated series “Fancy Nancy.”

Ryu allowed just one runner past first base, struck out eight and didn't walk a batter in his first postseason appearance since Game 3 of a 2014 NLDS.

“He had command to both sides of the plate, command at the secondary,” Roberts said. “He was in control. There was a lot of soft contact. He was doing what he wanted to do, missing bats, the no-walk, and really competed well.

“It was good to see, and we needed that one.”

Braves manager Brian Snitker said the “changeup was a huge pitch for him, just kept us off balance.”

Ryu's seven-inning stint matched the longest by a Dodgers starter during the 2017 postseason. In their 15 2017 postseason games, Dodgers starters pitched at least six innings four times, including three times by Clayton Kershaw.

Statistics indicate pitchers are less effective the third time they face the opposing lineup.

All but one of the Dodgers' runs came via the home run and three of their five hits were home runs. They struck out 10 times. Dodger pitchers struck out 11 batters.

Muncy's homer off Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. He drove in Joc Pederson, who was hit by a pitch on a 1-2 slider with two outs, and Justin Turner, who walked.

“Two strikes and two outs, pretty much for all that to unwind like that really takes the cake,” Foltynewicz said.

“You get two quick outs and then to get two strikes, hit the batter, fall behind, turn and walk them, and for that to happen and put your team down 4 to 0 in the second inning is not where you want to be, especially opening up a series and then you have Kershaw tomorrow.”

Pederson homered leading off the bottom of the first inning, fouling off the first two pitches from Foltynewicz, then hitting the third an estimated 383 feet over the fence in right-center field.

“Joc's home run really didn't bother me,” said Foltynewicz, who was charged with the loss, allowing four runs and three hits, striking out five, walking three and hitting a batter in two innings. “It was kind of somewhat all right pitch, like a ball outside out over the plate. Just got his hands extended.”

The Dodgers loaded the bases later in the first. Turner followed Pederson's homer with a double and Muncy walked. Cody Bellinger walked two outs later, but Foltynewicz struck out Yasiel Puig to end the inning.

Kike Hernandez hit a solo homer off reliever Brad Brach in the sixth before a crowd announced at 50,947.

A sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter David Freese drove in Puig in the eighth. Puig singled with one out and moved to third on a wild pickoff throw by reliever Chad Sobotka.

Dodgers rookie left-hander Caleb Ferguson pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two.

Right-hander Dylan Floro induced Ozzie Albies, the only batter he faced, to end the game after left-hander Alex Wood allowed two-out singles to Nick Markakis and Tyler Flores in the ninth.

Photos: Getty Images

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