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Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
CHAVEZ RAVINE (CBSLA.com) — With one swing of the bat, Juan Uribe sent the Dodgers to the NLCS to compete for the National League Pennant.
The ball had the kind of tremendous flight off his bat that made one feel confident, excited, even comforted.
Uribe connected on the clutch home run in the bottom of the eighth to give the Dodgers the winning 4-3 score and a berth in the National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers will play either the Pittsburgh Pirates or the St. Louis Cardinals, based on the outcome of that series.
Just as Dodger fans had little time to catch a breath following Sunday night’s Game 3 win, Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly decided to go with Clayton Kershaw off just three days rest in high hopes of driving the nail into Atlanta’s coffin.
Kershaw, who threw 124 pitches and struck out 12 batters in Game 1 on Thursday, struck out six batters through six innings, giving up a pair of unearned runs off 91 pitches.
Kershaw’s curveball was positively devastating early on, with two of his three strikeouts through the first two innings coming on a pair of 75 mph curves, mixed with a 94 mph fastball.
From the plate, the Dodgers initially continued from where they had left off on Sunday night, with Carl Crawford starting the game with a solo leadoff shot to right field in the first inning off the veteran Freddy Garcia, after having recovered from an 0-2 count.
Garcia, who had come into the must-win scenario with an untarnished 5-0 record and a 2.41 ERA through six career post-season road starts, also struck out six through six innings, giving up a pair of earned runs.
Hanley Ramirez, who was an absolute terror against the Braves in Game 3 and was named the Dodgers’ nominee for the Hank Aaron Award on Monday, followed Crawford with a single before stealing second base in the first. He was nearly brought home on a long ball by Yasiel Puig, who became the fifth Los Angeles rookie to post three or more hits in post-season play on Sunday night, but the ball died at the wall and was grabbed by Justin Upton.
As emotions were high for both clubs, Brian McCann found himself in dangerous territory in the second inning. After having been called out on one of Kershaw’s curveballs, McCann, arguing that the ball was low, got rather boisterous with home plate umpire Bill Miller. McCann, who plays catcher for Atlanta, could be seen having what may have been apologetic words with Miller with a smile on his face in the bottom of the second.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, Carl Crawford was about to bring into the bright lights thousands of emotions of a more jubilant nature at Dodger Stadium.
Crawford’s second home run of the night hugged the right field line, but managed to leave even less doubt about its destination than his first. The ball stayed fair by a number of feet and reached well into the corner stands in right, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
The Braves responded with an opportunity in the fourth, after Freddie Freeman singled to right and Evan Gattis reached on a throwing error by Adrian Gonzalez, who was attempting to double up the runner at second. The throw was in the dirt, however, and both runners were safe. Both runners advanced into scoring position off a wild pitch by Kershaw with no outs.
Kershaw changed up his pitches and retired McCann on a fastball low in the zone before Chris Johnson smacked an RBI single to left, cutting the deficit to one run.
Andrelton Simmons took advantage of the disconnection between the Dodger infielders in the fourth when he reached on a throwing error by Mark Ellis on what looked to be a routine double play. Gattis scored on the play and tied the game at two runs apiece.
In the seventh, Kershaw was relieved by Ronald Belisario, who gave up a 1-out hit to Elliot Johnson, his first of the series, in the form of a triple. The Braves, naturally, took their 3-2 lead when Jose Constanza connected of Belisario for an RBI single to center. Belisario was pulled and found himself sitting alone in the Dodger dugout.
The Dodgers were unable to capitalize on their own opportunity after the stretch. With runners on first and second and 2 outs, Gonzalez blew a 3-0 count to fly out to right field.
Then Juan Uribe happened.
He swung on a breaking ball, dropped his bat, and instantly restored what energy had left Dodger Stadium.
Certainly the man of the moment, Uribe may have redeemed what was a tough couple of seasons in Los Angeles, proving, once again, that he is clutch in the playoffs.
After Puig led off the bottom of the eighth, Juan Uribe crushed a titanic blast well into the stands in left field, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.
Kenley Jansen came in, and, true to the theme of the 2013 Dodgers, was as solid as he needed to be, right when he needed to be.