Pederson hit his home run off Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz on the third pitch of the bottom of the first inning.
Rather than pop, Ronald Acuna Jr. started the game with a popup.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said the "changeup was a huge pitch for him, just kept us off balance". He only struck out one hitter (Nick Markakis looking on a handsome curveball to end the first with Acuna standing on third) through seven incredibly efficient innings (73 pitches). He got out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the first by striking out Yasiel Puig. (The Braves hadn't been shut out in consecutive games since 2014.) While it would be a mistake to draw any broad conclusions from two bad games, the unpleasant fact for the Braves is that some of the pixie dust wore off the offense down the stretch, with the Phillies' and Nationals' more calamitous second halves providing Atlanta cover.
"That's a lot of thought right three", Kershaw said. The left-hander struck out three and walked none in the longest scoreless playoff outing for a Dodgers pitcher since Jose Lima tossed a complete-game shutout in Game 3 of the 2004 NLDS against St. Louis.
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"When he came back we weren't sure who we were going to get", teammate Enrique Hernandez said.
The Braves have lost eight straight series openers in the postseason. From that point, Kershaw would retire the next 14 Braves hitters, without incident.
"He has a feel for everything and when his curveball's on, it's going to be a good night for him", Culberson said. A trainer briefly came out to check on Kershaw, who threw one warmup pitch to prove he was fine.
"I wouldn't really consider it a gut punch", Kershaw said Thursday in his first public comments on the topic.
Kershaw said he asked Roberts why he wasn't starting and received an answer.
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Acuna and fellow rookie Ozzie Albies were held in check, as were veterans Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. Puig was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a walk on Thursday night. "But, you know, it was just a situation there you get behind against a guy like that, we were just trying to try and stop the bleeding there a little bit".
Kershaw juggled daughter Cali and son Charley on his lap in the postgame interview room.
"Y'all are supposed to be in bed", Kershaw said, clearly pleased to have his hands full. Sanchez has given up two earned runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts and is 2-4 with a 2.79 ERA in the postseason.
The Dodgers explosive batting order did not skip a beat from the regular season. He allowed four runs and eight hits over five innings in a no-decision.
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With their season on the line, the NL East champion Braves are likely to start RHP Kevin Gausman on Sunday.