After a terrific start, Kershaw can't finish

On throwback jersey day, Clayton Kershaw gave a throwback performance. He was allowed to try completing a game in the ninth, despite his pitch count getting into the area many managers get nervous. The decision by manager Don Mattingly backfired as Kershaw allowed a two-run single to give up the lead, but the Dodgers rallied for a 5-3 victory in 12 innings on Matt Kemp's two-run walk-off home run.

Kershaw started the ninth at 99 pitches, having given up two hits and three walks at that point. He retired the first two batters, then Chipper Jones singled on the first pitch.

Dan Uggla was down to his last strike when he singled to left. Replays showed Uggla was out at second base trying to advance, but the umpire called him safe.

Freddie Freeman worked the count full, then walked to load the bases and Kershaw's pitch count was at 119. Mattingly visited the mound and most of Dodger Stadium booed, expecting him to take out the team's opening day starter.

In previous years, Kershaw might not have started the ninth, and certainly would have been removed long before then.

But the reigns are off the kid.

Mattingly let Kershaw try to finish it. By now, the crowd had been on its feet for four batters. Kershaw jumped ahead of former Dodger Davis Ross, 0-and-2, and the crowd felt it, but Ross' soft single scored two to put the Braves ahead, 3-2.

Jonathan Broxton finished the inning to prevent further runs. Casey Blake took Kershaw off the hook with a two-strike single in the bottom of the ninth to left to tie the game.

"We wanted to win it for Kershaw so bad," Blake said. "The kid is a gamer. But the important thing is we got the win and I know that's what Kershaw cares about most."

Kemp, on a 0-and-2 pitch, won it with his second walk-off home run in five days.

Business as Usual Despite Takeover
Ever since Frank and Jamie McCourt first announced they were getting divorced in the middle of the 2009 playoffs, Dodgers players, coaches and baseball operations people have insisted it hasn't affected the team's performance.

On Wednesday, the day that Major League Baseball announced it would appoint a representative to take over all aspects of the business and day-to-day operations of the Dodgers, nothing changed in their comments to the media.

"There's going to be a Dodgers team no matter what," right fielder Andre Ethier said. "It's our job. The fans deserve a good product. There's been distractions the last few years. I wouldn't say this is another one. This has been going for two years. We'll find a way to keep it separate and make the Dodgers fans proud of this team."

Dodgers fans were proud of the offense's early outburst Wednesday. Juan Uribe hit two-run singles in the first and second innings, and Ethier had three hits, including his 100th career home run, in Los Angeles' 6-1 win over Atlanta. The Dodgers have won three of their last four games.

General manager Ned Colletti held a brief team meeting, about 10 minutes, before batting practice to pass along the news.

Colletti hadn't heard from the commissioner's office, and therefore didn't know much about how it would affect his ability to spend money on players.

"Well, it's certainly a historic day," Colletti said. "You never like to see things like this happen. I don't claim to know everything. I assume the people who know these things know far more than I do."

Players weren't worried about their paychecks or anything else for that matter.

"It's not going to be a distraction for us," center fielder Matt Kemp said. "It's the same day for us. We're going to continue to play baseball."

If anything, recent history gave Dodgers players a sense of comfort. Just last year, MLB took control of the Rangers, and that didn't stop Texas from spending money to improve a team that went to the World Series.

"They're adding Cliff Lee and Bengie Molina and all these players, and we're wondering how it's possible a team that doesn't have any money can add these players," Rod Barajas said. "Obviously, there's a way. If we need to make a transaction or there's a trade we can make, the team's hands are not tied."

NOTES, QUOTES
--1B James Loney should be happy the Dodgers start a six-game road trip Friday in Chicago. Loney's career home-road splits have consistently been drastically better on the road (.303/.357/.488) compared to home (.264/.329/.370). His home runs (38 to 18) and RBI (196 to 165) also are far better on the road.

--RHP Ramon Troncoso was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque after the game on Thursday. The Dodgers are expected to activate RHP Vicente Padilla from the disabled list before Friday's game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

--CF Matt Kemp struck out four times in his first 11 games. With three strikeouts on Thursday, he's whiffed 12 times in the last nine games.

--RF Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 18 games Thursday with a third-inning single off Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. Ethier's streak is the longest active in the majors and his personal longest. The Dodgers record is 31 consecutive games, by Willie Davis from Aug. 1-Sept. 3, 1968.

--INF Juan Uribe cracked his first homer into the left-field pavilion to tie the score 1-1 in the sixth and extend his hitting streak to a modest five games. Uribe has raised his average from .143 to .221 in the last five games.

--RHP Jon Garland pitched his first complete game since 2009, the 11th of his career, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four in a 6-1 win over Atlanta. If Garland reaches 190 innings this year, his contract automatically vests for 2012. After missing the first two turns through the rotation due to a strained oblique suffered in spring training, every inning counts to hit that mark.

--C Dioner Navarro (strained oblique) began his rehab assignment Wednesday with Class AA Chattanooga, going 1-for-3 with an RBI single, a walk and two stolen bases. He caught all nine innings. Navarro is rehabbing in the Southern League because of better weather, and so he'll be closer to the Dodgers for a Chicago-Miami road trip that starts Friday.

--RHP John Ely of Class AAA Albuquerque had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the seventh inning on a double by Iowa's Marquez Smith. It was the nightcap of a doubleheader, so it was only a seven-inning game, and Ely was one out from the shortened no-no. Ely walked four, struck out seven and added a sacrifice fly in the 3-0 win.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"Frank's a good guy. That's all I can say about him. I have nothing bad to say about him. Things happen. I don't like to get into people's personal situations, but I'm sure everything will get taken care of and everything will be all right." -- OF Matt Kemp, on the day Major League Baseball seized control of the Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt.