LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers’ Juan Uribe facing a hard-throwing Atlanta reliever in the eighth inning yielded poor results for the Braves again Wednesday. But Justin Upton wasn’t going to let things end like they did on that night in October.
After Uribe bounced a two-out single up the middle against reliever Jordan Walden in the eighth to put the Dodgers ahead 2-1, Upton led off the ninth with a towering home run against closer Kenley Jansen. But it only delayed the agonizing outcome, as Matt Kemp’s single with none out in the 10th inning gave the Dodgers a 3-2 walk-off win.
Justin Turner had led off the 10th with a single against David Hale, whose wild pitch advanced the runner into scoring position before the game-ending single to left by Kemp, who had earlier homered. Hale pitched a scoreless ninth before giving up the winning run in the 10th.
The Braves had a scoring opportunity in the 10th after Jordan Schafer drew a leadoff walk and advanced on Ramiro Pena’s sacrifice. But Schafer got too big a lead off second base and left-hander J.P. Howell picked him off, pretty much a cardinal sin for a base runner in that situation.
Upton’s homer was his 19th of the season and came on a hanging 2-2 slider, the kind of pitch that the Braves didn’t see for eight innings against Dodgers starter Zack Greinke.
Greinke had a season-high 13 strikeouts and allowed five hits and one run. He didn’t walk a batter until rookie Tommy La Stella drew a two-out walk in the eighth. Braves starter Alex Wood held his own against the Dodgers All-Star, allowing six hits and one run in seven innings, with eight strikeouts and two walks.
On Uribe’s go-ahead RBI single, shortstop Andrelton Simmons made a leaping stop on the grass behind second base, but wasn’t able to get to his feet quickly enough to keep Kemp from scoring from second base on the play.
It was Uribe who hit a two-run homer off reliever David Carpenter in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the Division Series in October, erasing the Braves’ one-run lead and lifting to the Dodgers to a series-clinching 4-3 win.
After Braves starter Alex Wood pitched seven strong innings, Walden struck out the first two batters in the eighth before walking Kemp, whose second-inning homer was the only run against Wood. Carl Crawford followed with a single before Uribe drove in the run.
In a game the Braves needed if they hoped to avoid losing the series – and before they face Clayton Kershaw in Thursday’s finale — Wood came through with one of his best performances in a season that’s featured a few gems by the second-year left-hander.
Kemp’s leadoff homer in the second inning was his third in two games in the series, and erased the Braves’ 1-0 lead. But Wood went to work and wiggled out of some tight spots later against the heart of the Dodgers order.
Greinke got no decision and is 6-1 with a 2.52 ERA in nine starts at Dodger Stadium, where he’s collected 81 strikeouts with 11 walks in 60 2/3 innings. He struck out major league strikeout leader B.J. Upton all four times he faced him, giving Upton seven strikeouts in his past eight plate appearances and 70 strikeouts in 202 at-bats over his past 48 games.
For the second night in a row, the Braves scored first. They took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Evan Gattis doubled with one out, advanced on Chris Johnson’s groundout, and scored on Andrelton Simmons’ infield single. And for the second consecutive night, the resurgent Kemp quickly erased the lead with a home run.
Wood left a 1-and-1 fastball over the plate and Kemp drilled it for a solo homer to start the second inning, his third in two nights after entering the series with 104 consecutive homerless at-bat. In Tuesday’s series opener, Kemp’s two-run homer in the second inning turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead, and he added a two-run homer in the seventh inning of the 8-4 Dodgers win.
The Braves had another chance to score after Justin Upton’s one-out double in the fourth, but Gattis struck out and Chris Johnson’s first-pitch groundout ended the inning. The Braves also had two runners in scoring position in the sixth when Gattis struck out.
Before La Stella worked that full-count, opposite-field single in the sixth, Greinke had retired 11 of 12 batters including seven strikeouts since Simmons’ RBI single. When Gattis whiffed to end the sixth and Chris Johnson whiffed to start the seventh, Greinke had 10 strikeouts in a span of 17 batters.
Wood did impressive work to get out of jams in the fifth and sixth innings. After the Dodgers got two singles to put runners on the corners with one out in the fifth, Wood coaxed a pop-up from Yasiel Puig and got Adrian Gonzalez on a routine grounder.
Kemp singled with one out in the sixth and Uribe’s two-out infield single gave the Dodgers runners on the corners again. With Greinke on deck — a solid hitter by pitcher’s standards with a .154 average and four doubles before Wednesday — the Braves elected to pitch to Ellis anyway. Wood made the decision look good by striking him out to strand two with the score still tied.
In the third inning, Gattis made a strong throw to second base to catch Dee Gordon stealing for the second out. Gordon was called safe initially, but the Braves challenged and the call was overturned after video review. That was big, with Puig up next. Wood walked Puig and struck out Gonzalez to end the inning.
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