He scattered nine hits and struck out nine while tying his career-best winning streak of 10 games in a 2-1 victory Thursday night that completed Los Angeles’ three-game sweep of Atlanta.
“Fortunately for us a lot of times he comes out on top,” catcher A.J. Ellis said. “He’s an amazing talent who is just as strong in the ninth as he is in the first. There’s no drop-off ever. We’re spoiled rotten.”
Kershaw (13-2) notched his second consecutive complete game for the second time in his career following his three-hit shutout at San Francisco last weekend. He is unbeaten in his last 11 starts with a 10-0 record since June 2. The left-hander beat the Braves for the first time during the regular season in his career.
“You want to be the same from the first inning to the ninth,” Kershaw said. “I got hurt this year at the beginning, but now I feel pretty strong.”
Kershaw had to work to close out the Braves in the ninth, when he finally gave up a run. With one out, B.J. Upton singled and advanced to third on Tommy La Stella’s single. Freddie Freeman went down swinging for the second out, bringing the cheering crowd of 51,163 to its feet.
But the Braves closed to 2-1 on Justin Upton’s infield single to third.
Juan Uribe charged to field the ball and fired to first, where Adrian Gonzalez stretched for the throw. Upton was called safe by umpire Mike Estabrook. Manager Don Mattingly challenged the call as the crowd grew rowdier. Kershaw crouched behind the mound waiting for a decision.
It took 2 1-2 minutes before the umpires upheld the call, putting the potential go-ahead run on first. Evan Gattis grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
“It looked really close. The umpire got it right,” Kershaw said. “It would have been nice to get that overturned.”
Yasiel Puig homered as the Dodgers stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games and swept the Braves for the first time since taking four in a row from July 26-29, 1990, at home. The Dodgers, who turned three double plays, moved a season-best 3½ games ahead of the idle Giants in the NL West.
Julio Teheran (10-7) dueled with Kershaw, but fell behind in the first. Puig walked and scored from first when Gonzalez doubled to deep right-center field.
“I had my best and everything was working, but I made a couple of mistakes and they got two runs,” Teheran said. “It was fun (pitching against Kershaw). I know it’s not that easy to face him, but we had a real battle out there.”
Puig extended the lead to 2-0 with his 13th homer in the third.
Teheran gave up five hits in eight innings. He struck out nine and walked three in his third complete game of the season and his first loss.
Braves get INF-OF Bonifacio,
LHP Russell from Cubs
CHICAGO (AP) — The contending Atlanta Braves bolstered their bench and bullpen on Thursday, acquiring utilityman Emilio Bonifacio and left-hander James Russell in a trade with the Chicago Cubs.
The Braves also got cash back from the Cubs in exchange for catching prospect Victor Caratini. Bonifacio and Russell did not play in the Cubs’ 3-1 win over Colorado on Thursday afternoon.
“These are two pieces that we really like,” Atlanta GM Frank Wren said on a conference call. “In Bonifacio, we got a really versatile bench player who can do a lot of things well. In Russell’s case, it’s another veteran bullpen arm.”
Russell was in the home bullpen at Wrigley Field when the trade was made. He hugged several of his teammates and coaches — and slapped hands with a few fans — as he exited while the game was going on.
“It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around it,” Russell said. “It’s obviously a shock. I knew things were gonna happen. There’s really nothing you can do to prepare yourself for this. It’s still kind of weird. I don’t know how to feel. There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of mixed emotions.”
The 29-year-old Bonifacio hit .279 with 14 steals in 69 games for the Cubs this season. He previously played for Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez when they were both with the Marlins.
“He’s a guy who gives you a lot of versatility. You can play him anywhere on the field,” Gonzalez said in Los Angeles. “You can bring him off the bench or start him if the matchup is right. He’s a nice National League player.”
The 28-year-old Russell is 0-2 with one save and a 3.51 ERA in 44 games.
“He’s not your traditional left-handed reliever,” Gonzalez said. “You can let him run through some right-handers. He’s durable.”
Atlanta is in the chase for the NL East title, and the Cubs are last in the NL Central.
The 20-year-old Caratini was selected by the Braves in the second round of the 2013 draft. He hit .279 with five homers and 42 RBIs in 87 games with Class A Rome this season.
“He’s a guy we liked in the draft a lot,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer. “We’ve said it all along, catching is a weakness in our system and we don’t have enough of it.”