Clayton Kershaw once made a bet with Superman. The loser had to wear his underwear on the outside.
Kershaw did it all for the Dodgers, pitching seven and 2/3 strong innings, knocking in two runs, and reaching base four times, as Los Angeles defeated the Atlanta Braves, 4-1, on Friday night at SunTrust Park.
Kershaw (4-5) was his usual dominant self on the mound, allowing one run and six hits and striking out eight. The three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP is 4-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 10 career starts against the Braves.
"This is as good as I remember him," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts of Kershaw. "The way the ball was coming out of his hand...this is as good as I've seen him do that, and the velocity held all night long."
He surprised the capacity crowd at SunTrust Park by doubling down the left-field line to put Los Angeles up 4-1 in the fourth. The inside-out swing that scored Matt Kemp and Chris Taylor didn't draw too loud of a reaction from the fans, but they had seen enough in the eighth when Kershaw walked for the third time. Atlanta reliever Jesse Biddle was showered with boos.
In total, Kershaw reached base four times in the game, becoming the first Dodgers pitcher to reach base 4 times in a game since Doug Rau on June 24, 1975.
Los Angeles has won two straight, improving its NL-best road record to 30-22. The Dodgers are 32-16 overall since June 1, tops in the NL over that span.
The Braves have lost three straight and 12 of 17. They were in first place for all but two days from May 2-July 10, but the loss kept them 2½ games behind Philadelphia in the NL East.
Kershaw departed in the eighth with two runners on as closer Kenley Jansen got the last four outs to earn his 30th save in 33 chances. Freddie Freeman flew out to end the eighth, and Jansen faced the minimum in the ninth.
"It was a good night," said Kershaw after the game. "I kept my pitch count down and was able to get through the seventh inning. I'll take it. I wish I could have gotten through the eighth right there."
Mike Foltynewicz (7-7) lost for the third time in his last four starts, giving up four runs, six hits and three walks and striking out eight in five innings. A first-time All-Star, Foltynewicz owns a 6.94 ERA and has allowed four homers in his last four outings.
Alex Verdugo tied it at 1-all in the third with his second career homer. Foltynewicz, appearing upset with himself for giving up the lead, immediately walked Kershaw on five pitches and seemed agitated the rest of the night.
Yasmani Grandal hit his 17th homer to begin the fourth and has a .389 average with six homers and 14 RBIs in 19 games this month. The Dodgers lead the NL with 142 homers, 101 of them solo shots.
Kershaw worked out of trouble in the seventh. Nick Markakis singled and advanced to second when Kershaw hit Kurt Suzuki in the back with a pitch, but Johan Camargo struck out and Ender Inciarte lined into a double play.
Atlanta led 1-0 in the second when Suzuki singled and scored on a groundout.
After missing 15 games with a right oblique strain, Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig arrived Friday in Atlanta and will return from the disabled list on Saturday. Manager Dave Roberts gave Puig the night off to spend time with his mother. Puig will likely be in Saturday's lineup, but Roberts added that the club will use a rotation going forward so that Puig, Kemp, Pederson and Alex Verdugo get enough rest. Roberts also gives Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez starts in the outfield, too.
"I think if I can keep them fresh, they'll perform better, and if they're mad at me, they'll still perform better," Roberts said.
Roberts added that LHP Julio Urias, nearly recovered from major shoulder surgery sidelined him over a year, will be used in relief when he returns next month. ... 3B Justin Turner did some lateral running and took some swings in batting practice. He's missed five games with a right groin strain.
LHP Jonny Venters, after three Tommy John procedures and four elbow surgeries overall, was back in a Braves uniform for the first time since 2012, pitching a scoreless sixth. The 33-year-old returned to the majors earlier this year with Tampa Bay, making his first appearance in six years. Atlanta acquired him in a trade Thursday night. Venters said his stuff isn't as dominant as it used to be, but he was delighted to get a chance to pitch for his old team just 15 miles from his family's home in Suwanee, Georgia.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (6-5, 3.87 ERA) is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his last four starts.
Braves: LHP Max Fried (1-3, 3.92) will come off the disabled list for the first time since July 5. Fried will face the Dodgers for the first time.