ATLANTA (AP) — Clayton Kershaw finally has his first postseason win.
He made sure it was one to remember.
Kershaw struck out 12 while allowing only three hits, Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 6-1 in Game 1 of the NL division series Thursday night.
The win soared to the top of Kershaw's list of favorites — no small statement for the right-hander favored to win his second Cy Young Award.
"It's up there," Kershaw said. "It might be the best just because it's my first postseason win. ... This one definitely has special meaning to me for sure."
Kershaw walked three batters but gained confidence as the game progressed. Nine of his last 11 outs came on strikeouts.
Kershaw struck out the side in the seventh to cap his dominant performance.
Atlanta struck out 15 times in all, including three in the ninth against closer Kenley Jansen.
The Braves needed a strong performance to beat Kershaw and were far from perfect. Left fielder Evan Gattis was doubled off first base in the second inning on a fly ball to right field, and second baseman Elliot Johnson missed a sinking liner by Carl Crawford that was ruled a single in the third.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves were "a little bit overamped."
Asked to elaborate, Gonzalez said, "Excited. That's what I mean.
"It was a big game. I had to check myself a little bit in the dugout. ... Hopefully, they come out tomorrow and play a little better baseball, a little calmed down, and it might give us a good opportunity to win the game."
Gattis said he was "excited, nervous, everything else. It's good for me."
The Dodgers gave Kershaw a 4-0 lead in the third. That's usually enough to practically guarantee a win for the Los Angeles ace.