The Braves finally got the best of Clayton Kershaw in a regular-season game. They tagged him for five runs in the third inning en route to a 6-4 win over the Dodgers Saturday in front of a sold-out Truist Park crowd. The bullpen produced its best effort of the season, as well, in what should be regarded as one of the Braves’ better victories.

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“That’s a big win,” manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s a good team win. We beat a really good pitcher and a great team.”

Here are five takeaways from Saturday:

1. This time, the Braves had the big inning. One night after surrendering eight runs in the fifth, they struck for five runs – all with two outs – in the third. It was a rare chaotic inning for Kershaw, likely a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Guillermo Heredia started the inning with a single. Kershaw retired the next two. The next five Braves reached: Ronald Acuna walked, Freddie Freeman singled, Ozzie Albies doubled, Austin Riley singled and Dansby Swanson doubled. In the blink of an eye, the Braves had a four-run lead.

2. Kershaw entered the night with incredible numbers against the Braves, whom he hadn’t lost to in 11 regular-season starts. He was sporting a 5-0 record with a 1.78 ERA. The five earned runs Saturday were the most he’s allowed in any of those outings against the Braves.

It was the first time the Braves defeated the Dodgers in a regular-season game started by Kershaw since Sept. 4, 2011. Kershaw took the loss, meaning the Mets are the only remaining National League team against whom he’s unbeaten (10-0 in 15 starts).

3. The Braves came dangerously close to relinquishing their lead in one inning. The Dodgers started the fourth with four consecutive singles against starter Charlie Morton, who’s been plagued by meltdown innings during his first season back with the Braves.

Los Angeles posted three runs in the frame, seeing the final run score on Swanson’s throwing error to first base. But the Braves escaped the inning with a 5-4 advantage. Limiting the damage there helped save them the game. Morton stayed in and logged a scoreless fifth before passing it to the relievers.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

4. The Braves’ bullpen had its best night of the season. Five relievers - A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek, Chris Martin and Will Smith covered four innings, allowing just one hit and no runs. The group collectively issued one walk, a far cry from a disastrous showing Friday, when Braves pitchers issued five walks in the Dodgers’ eight-run fifth inning alone.

“That’s the baseball we’d become accustomed to,” Snitker said. “They all handed it off to each other and did a really good job tonight.”

Jackson said, “A night like tonight might start that fire and get the boys rolling. It’s something we need. We have another big game tomorrow so let’s keep it rolling.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

5. Outfielder Abraham Almonte picked a good time for his second hit as a Brave. He led off the seventh against Blake Treinen and blasted his first career pinch-hit homer to give the Braves an important insurance run. It was the Braves’ seventh pinch-hit homer, tied for most in the majors. Almonte, playing because of the Braves’ dire outfield situation, was 1-for-8 entering the night.

“You’re happy for any guy who comes through and has a big hit like that,” said Smith, who recorded a 1-2-3 ninth. “Whether it’s one of your superstars or a guy who just got called up. Anytime somebody comes through, you’re ecstatic for them. That was a big extra run for us.”

Braves 6, Dodgers 4 (box score)

Stat to know

41,136 (The Braves announced attendance as 41,136, their largest crowd of the season. The team opened Truist Park to 100% capacity on May 7. Snitker: “It was against the world champs, holy cow. It doesn’t get any better than that. It was electric out there. It was like a playoff game, really. A lot of energy.”)


“We know what’s in us. And we showed it tonight, which was fun.” - Will Smith on the bullpen

Up next

The Braves and Dodgers finish their series Sunday. Braves lefty Max Fried (2-3, 5.35) will face Dodgers right-hander and reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer (6-3, 2.24).