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Crawford's power sets tone right off bat for Dodgers

Outfielder belts two homers, including second leadoff shot in team playoff history

LOS ANGELES -- Carl Crawford continued his power surge Monday night with a pair of solo home runs that helped the Dodgers win the National League Division Series with a 4-3 victory over the Braves in Game 4.

Crawford picked up right where he left off in Game 3, launching a leadoff homer on a changeup from Braves starter Freddy Garcia into the right-field pavilion to get the sell-out crowd at Dodger Stadium on its feet and set the tone for a dramatic evening.

In the third inning, Crawford reached down to get a 2-2 breaking ball from Garcia and lifted a majestic shot down the right-field line for his first multi-homer game in the postseason and a 2-0 Dodgers lead.

Crawford's second long ball earned a curtain call and resulted in a big grin from the left fielder.

"The smile on his face when he hit that homer was priceless," manager Don Mattingly said. "When he came in the dugout after hitting that home run, what a great look on his face. He's had a rough couple of years, but he's really getting hot at the right time."

Those rough couple of years included a forgettable 2011 season in Boston, which came on the heels of a seven-year, $142 million contract. Injuries limited Crawford to 31 games with the Red Sox last season before he came to Los Angeles as a major piece of the blockbuster deal that also netted first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, starting pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto.

"It's fun just to be able to smile again," said Crawford, whose big performance in Game 4 came with his family watching from the stands.

After going 2-for-9 during Games 1 and 2 in Atlanta, Crawford rebounded Sunday in Game 3 with a three-run homer, three runs scored and a spectacular catch in foul territory that saw him tumble over the waist-high wall that runs down the left-field line.

With that performance in mind, Matt Kemp sensed Crawford was in line to play an important role in Game 4.

"I'm not saying I helped him hit that first home run, but I told him to sit on that changeup," Kemp said. "I knew he was going to hit one out, and he actually hit two out. I was so happy for him in that moment."

Crawford's leadoff homer was only the second in Dodgers postseason history. First-base coach Davey Lopes also had one in Game 6 of the 1978 World Series against the Yankees.

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for
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