October 9, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2009 by beating Atlanta 4-3 in Game 4 of their opening round playoff series Monday.
Juan Uribe’s two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth lifted the Dodgers to victory and capped a late-inning rally in front of a crowd of 54,438 at Dodger Stadium.
“It was an unbelievable game,” said Uribe, who hit his second career playoff go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later. “I wanted to have a good swing and try to win the game.”
Los Angeles will face either St. Louis or Pittsburgh in the next round. The Cardinals beat the Pirates 2-1 on Monday to even their opening round playoff series at two games apiece.
Leading 3-2, Atlanta sent David Carpenter to the mound. But Cuban star Yasiel Puig led off the eighth with a double down the right-field line. Uribe then clubbed a 2-2 pitch over the wall in leftfield.
Kenley Jansen tossed a perfect ninth to put the Dodgers in the Major League Baseball’s semifinals for the third time in the past six years.
“This team has a lot of pride,” said Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford, who clubbed two solo home runs. “We just go out there and try to play and have fun doing it.”
The Dodgers closed out the series after turning the ball over to left-hander Clayton Kershaw on short rest.
Kershaw threw a total of 91 pitches giving up two runs in six innings of work.
Ricky Nolasco was scheduled to start Monday but the Dodgers manager Don Mattingly decided to roll the dice and go with Kershaw, who was pitching on just three days rest for the first time in his career. Kershaw was brilliant in a Game 1 victory in the series.
Braves starter Freddy Garcia surrendered both home runs to Crawford.
Crawford got things started for Los Angeles, leading off the bottom of the first with a homer. It was the first time a Dodger has led off the game with a home run since Davey Lopez in the 1978 World Series.
This was the first playoff meeting between the Braves and Dodgers since 1996 when Atlanta swept the first-round series.
Atlanta won five of its seven regular-season matchups with the Dodgers this season.
The first game of the NL Championship Series will be Friday in either St. Louis or Los Angeles.
In Pittsburgh, rookie Michael Wacha took a no-hitter into the eighth in a terrific 7 1/3-inning, nine-strikeout performance.
Wacha also came within an out of no-hitting Washington in his final regular-season start on September 24.
Monday’s no-hit bid was shattered by Pedro Alvarez’s solo homer that cut Pittsburgh’s deficit to 2-1.
Wacha then walked Russell Martin, but the Cardinals got big efforts from two other young pitchers to take the series back to Busch Stadium for Wednesday’s deciding Game 5.