Clayton Kershaw finally has his first postseason win.
He made sure it was one to remember.
Kershaw struck out 12 while allowing only three hits, Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 6-1 in Game 1 of the NL division series Thursday night.
The win soared to the top of Kershaw's list of favorites - no small statement for the right-hander favored to win his second Cy Young Award.
"It's up there,'' Kershaw said. "It might be the best just because it's my first postseason win. ... This one definitely has special meaning to me for sure.''
Kershaw walked three batters but gained confidence as the game progressed. Nine of his last 11 outs came on strikeouts.
Kershaw struck out the side in the seventh to cap his dominant performance.
Atlanta struck out 15 times in all, including three in the ninth against closer Kenley Jansen.
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Friday night in Atlanta, with Zack Greinke (15-4) starting for the Dodgers against Mike Minor (13-9).
The Braves needed a strong performance to beat Kershaw and were far from perfect. Left fielder Evan Gattis was doubled off first base in the second inning on a fly ball to right field, and second baseman Elliot Johnson missed a sinking liner by Carl Crawford that was ruled a single in the third.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves were "a little bit overamped.''
Asked to elaborate, Gonzalez said, "Excited. That's what I mean.
"It was a big game. I had to check myself a little bit in the dugout. ... Hopefully, they come out tomorrow and play a little better baseball, a little calmed down, and it might give us a good opportunity to win the game.''
Gattis said he was "excited, nervous, everything else. It's good for me.''
The Dodgers gave Kershaw a 4-0 lead in the third. That's usually enough to practically guarantee a win for the Los Angeles ace.
"That was huge,'' said Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, who drove in a run with two doubles. "When you get Clayton the lead, usually he's going to take care of business the rest of the way.
"The way he was going with the swings and misses, you knew it was going to be a special night. He was outstanding.''
Braves right-hander Kris Medlen struck out the side in the first, but that would be his highlight of the night.
Medlen couldn't keep pace with Kershaw. He allowed two runs in the second and two more in the third on the homer by Gonzalez over the 400-foot sign on the center-field wall for a 4-0 lead.
Medlen said he threw a first-pitch changeup for a strike in the second inning and tried the same strategy against Gonzalez in the third. He said he sensed danger as soon as he threw the pitch.
"I almost let it go knowing he was sitting on it,'' Medlen said. "It's been a successful pitch for me and something I've been relying on the entire year. But he's one of the best hitters in the game. It was a changeup, but it was a very bad changeup and he put a really good swing on it. For someone to take it dead center like that, he's got a good swing.''
Yasiel Puig hit a one-out single in the second, hustled to third on Juan Uribe's single up the middle and scored on Skip Schumaker's fly ball to center field. Uribe scored on a double by A.J. Ellis past a diving Gattis in left field.
A.J. Ellis doubled in the fourth and scored on a single by Mark Ellis.
Medlen gave up five runs on nine hits and one walk in four-plus innings. Gonzalez led off the fifth with a single and Medlen then hit Puig with his final pitch of the game.
The Dodgers added a run in the sixth when Mark Ellis, who singled, scored on Hanley Ramirez's double off Jordan Walden.
The Braves' only run came in the fourth when Freddie Freeman, who hit a one-out single, scored on Chris Johnson's single. Johnson's hit came after Brian McCann's long fly ball was caught at the left-field wall by Crawford.
"I thought I got enough to get it out,'' McCann said. "But I didn't.''
Clayton Kershaw finally has his first postseason win.
'Twice as Nice'
When it comes to the 3A State Tournament and Oklahoma City, the Verdigris High School basketball teams are a household name.
Head coaches Randy Upshaw and Mike Buntin lead their programs back to the 'Capitol City' this week for a chance to hoist the coveted 3A state championship on Saturday night at the Big House.
Cards fly into 3A State Tournament
Verdigris junior guard Cade Upshaw lives for March Madness.
The 5-foot-10 sharp-shooter overcame a sluggish performance in a loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah to bounce back for a 20-point outing in the Cardinals’ 72-42 win over Antlers Saturday evening in the Class 3A Area Tournament at Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Vinita eliminates Inola
Vinita used an 18-point third quarter — highlighted by the sophomore leadership of Carsyn Spurgeon — and converted 21-of-34 free throws to notch a 61-55 win over the Inola Lady Longhorns Saturday night in the Class 4A Area Tournament.
‘Soaring to State’
In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Stilwell advances to State
A jam-packed, vocal crowd — aided by the control of several Claremore Police officers — witnessed Stilwell’s come-from-behind 57-51 win over Harrah Saturday night in the must-win game of the Class 4A Area Tournament at the Claremore High School Gymnasium.
SOFTBALL: Arkansas cruises past Miss. Valley State
The University of Arkansas softball team completed an undefeated run through the Razorback Invitational Sunday afternoon win with a 13-5 victory over Mississippi Valley State at Bogle Park.
AAC WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: No. 1 UConn routs No. 3 Louisville for title
New league, same result. It's another championship for UConn.
Breanna Stewart scored 20 points and top-ranked Connecticut beat No. 3 Louisville 72-52 on Monday night to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: Sims leads Baylor to championship
Nothing was going to stop Odyssey Sims.
Not her early foul trouble, West Virginia's suffocating defense or the left ankle injury she suffered less than t wo minutes into the Big 12 championship game.
Sims, the Big 12 player of the year, bounced back and scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half to help No. 9 Baylor defeat No. 7 West Virginia 74-71 Monday night and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It was Sims' fourth championship in four years.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB: Kansas State fires coach Deb Patterson
Kansas State has fired women's basketball coach Deb Patterson, announcing the move two days after an opening-round loss in the Big 12 tournament.
NCAA MEN'S BB: Florida, Wichita State stay 1-2 in AP poll
Florida, which finished an unbeaten season in the Southeastern Conference, and Wichita State, which completed an undefeated regular season, are the top two teams in the AP college basketball poll for the third straight week.
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