A stubborn Clayton Kershaw lifts Dodgers to 2-1 win
For the first time in his career, Kershaw struck out 10 batters and allowed 10 hits. He walked one. Though his fastball was typically steady, Kershaw said he could not rely on his secondary pitches as much as he wanted.Of the Braves’ 10 hits against Kershaw, eight were singles. Six came on fastballs, two on sliders, and one each on a curveball and changeup.“I know it’s in there because I threw some good ones every now and then, slider and curveball,” he said. “But just inconsistent. I’ll throw a good one, get a swing and miss or a groundout, then hang one. Leave one up. It’s just in between right now. I know I can still do it, it’s just a matter of doing it every time.”For Kershaw, in-between is better than nothing. He’d rather have a pitch half the time than never at all.“I don’t have that many pitches where, if one’s not working I can throw other ones and hope for the best,” he said. “I need it to work. You’ve kind of got to be stubborn there a little bit and eventually figure it out.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error ATLANTA — Clayton Kershaw’s mastery of pitching to major league hitters tends to obscure his other outstanding qualities as an athlete. When he can combine a mid-90s fastball with a sharp-breaking curveball, a deceptive slider and an overlooked but nasty changeup, it’s easy to forget that Kershaw can be as stubborn as he is dominant.The stubbornness was on full display Thursday in the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.On a day when manager Dave Roberts wanted to spare his overworked bullpen, the Dodgers played 10 innings for the second day in a row. Ordinarily, that might have crippled a pitching staff on the verge of a three-game series in the thin air of Denver’s Coors Field.Kershaw saved the day, as he often does, by throwing 116 pitches and allowing only one run in eight innings. No Dodgers pitcher had thrown as many pitches in a game this season. Kershaw was stubborn running the bases, too.Batting for himself with two outs in the seventh inning, Kershaw sent a line drive into Turner Field’s spacious right-field gap. Atlanta center fielder Mallex Smith and right fielder Jeff Francoeur collided in pursuit of the ball, which fell to the ground for a two-base error.Rookie Corey Seager then lined a single to right field, and Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward sent Kershaw home. The play at the plate was close because of Francoeur’s strong right arm. Kershaw insisted he was safe. Umpire Angel Hernandez called him out. The Dodgers quickly challenged and lost after a lengthy review, and the game remained tied 1-1.Several television angles appeared to show Kershaw was safe. So did the pitcher’s reaction; he immediately nodded to Roberts to challenge the call. But there was no “clear and convincing evidence to confirm or overturn” the call — the league’s verbiage — and the out stood.It was only the second challenge the Dodgers have lost in six tries this season.“We thought he was in there,” Roberts said. “That’s why we challenged it. Those guys in New York do the best they can.”The Dodgers struggled to score all series, even when they did. They still won two out of the three games in their final visit ever to Turner Field. Thursday, Yasmani Grandal’s RBI double against Alexi Ogando drove in Kiké Hernandez with the game-winning run in the 10th inning.Chris Hatcher pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in relief of Kershaw, and Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless 10th for the second time in as many days. Jansen is 7-for-7 in save opportunities this season.As a whole, the Dodger bullpen has allowed one run in its last 26 1/3 innings, good for a 0.34 earned-run average.Kershaw lowered his own ERA to 1.50 and got his uniform dirty on a slide at the plate, an all around good day for the three-time Cy Young Award winner. A lesser manager’s heart might have stopped seeing his ace slide foot-first into potential danger.“It’s funny,” Roberts said. “When you get into the season and you start going through spring training, you worry about things like that. But as the game goes on, that was a potential winning run. I was trying to just think about scoring. I was looking at him as a baseball player.”A stubborn one, at that.