Garcia holds his own in do-or-die game vs. Kershaw
Righty matches Dodgers' ace, departs in line to win before bullpen lets lead get away
LOS ANGELES -- Plenty of doubt surrounded Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez's decision to stick with veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia on Monday for Game 4 of the National League Division Series.
Did he have what it takes to help the Braves in a must-win game? Could the 37-year-old's arm hold up? Would he be able to match Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw?
All of the answers to those questions, even after a crushing 4-3 loss, were an emphatic yes.
In his biggest start of the season, Garcia allowed two runs on eight hits in six innings of work. He also struck out six.
"He was outstanding," Gonzalez said. "He really was. He matched pitch for pitch with Kershaw. He was in line to get the win. We couldn't ask for any more than what Freddy gave us. You have to tip your hat to him. He gave us a great opportunity to win the game."
Garcia's only major mistakes of the night were against Carl Crawford, who hit solo home runs in the first and third innings.
"I threw the changeup and it cut a little bit. He's hot right now," Garcia said about Crawford's second home run. "He's hitting everything down and inside. I made a mistake like that."
Fooling hitters by changing speeds and eye levels, Garcia made pitches when it counted. None were bigger than in the sixth inning.
Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez led off with a single before Yasiel Puig grounded into a double play. A double by Juan Uribe and an intentional walk to Skip Schumaker put pressure on Garcia once again, but he got A.J. Ellis to ground out to third base to end the frame.
"I told you yesterday, I wanted to make my pitches and pitch my way and I did," Garcia said.
Unfortunately, once the right-hander exited, the Braves' bullpen couldn't hold a one-run lead. Right-hander David Carpenter surrendered a two-run blast to Uribe in the eighth inning which sealed the Braves' fate.
"I'm really happy for myself, but it doesn't matter because we lost," Garcia said. "We win as a team and we lose as a team. It doesn't matter what I did. In the end, we lost."
Yet, Garcia showed his worth once again, just like he did during the last month of the season and has throughout his 15-year career.
"I like to prove people wrong. I've faced a lot of great guys in my career and I've been here before," Garcia said. "That wasn't any different today. I went out there and did my job like I always try to do."