What initially looked like an unfolding crisis quickly turned into the Dodgers' loudest statement of the postseason — even louder than the fans at Dodger Stadium who mocked the Atlanta Braves on Sunday night by mimicking the Tomahawk Chop.
In defeating the Braves, 13-6, to take a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-five National League division series, the Dodgers offered a forceful reminder that they possess offensive firepower to overcome almost anything.
Hyun-Jin Ryu melted down spectacularly in his first career postseason start, but the rookie left-hander's three-inning appearance had little bearing on the final results, as Hanley Ramirez was one of five Dodgers to drive in two or more runs.
"Ryu wasn't his best, but we picked him up," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "That's what good teams do."
The Dodgers finished with 14 hits, including home runs by Carl Crawford and Juan Uribe. The team's run total matched a franchise postseason record, which was set in the second game of the 1956 World Series.
"We're a team that's built around offense," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "We need to have more nights like this. Hopefully, this carries forward for the rest of the playoffs."
With a victory Monday night at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers can advance to the NL Championship Series. Even if they drop Game 4, they can be eliminated only if the Braves win a game started by Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday in Atlanta.
With two rookie pitchers on the mound in Ryu and Braves starter Julio Teheran, the early innings were turbulent.
Ryu gave up two runs in the first inning, which Teheran followed by serving up four in the second. The Dodgers moved in front, 4-2, on a three-run home run by Crawford, who hit one home run in the regular season after May 6.
"It changed the whole game," A.J. Ellis said of Crawford's home run.
Ryu gave up the lead in the third inning, as a couple of his defensive gaffes resulted in two runs. He cost the Dodgers a double play when he received a throw from Ramirez but failed to step on first base.
Later in the inning, Ryu fielded a weak comebacker and tossed the ball home, even though he didn't have a force at the plate. Freddie Freeman scored to make it, 4-4.
The Dodgers made their decisive move in the bottom half of the inning.
Ramirez doubled and scored on a single to center field by Adrian Gonzalez, allowing the Dodgers to reclaim the lead, 5-4.
Gonzalez's greatest contribution that inning might not have been that hit, but a take-out slide.
Gonzalez slid into second baseman Elliot Johnson, which not only prevented Johnson from turning a double play, but also forced him into making an errant throw. Yasiel Puig reached second base on the play and scored on a hit by Skip Schumaker.
Gonzalez, who frequently jokes about his lack of speed, smiled when asked about his slide.
"I don't get many opportunities to do that because I don't get there quite often," Gonzalez said. "When I get the opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of it. Elliot told me afterwards I got him pretty good. That was a good feeling."
The third inning marked the end of both Ryu and Teheran's nights. Michael Young pinch-hit for Ryu, which prompted Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez to replace Teheran with Alex Wood.
Of Teheran, Fredi Gonzalez said, "I think he just left some balls over the plate and made some mistakes. And with this club, if you do that, you're going to look down at a gas tank with a lighted match."
The Dodgers added four more runs in the fourth inning, which included a run-scoring triple by Ramirez and a two-run home run by Uribe.
The triple was Ramirez's sixth extra-base hit of the series, which tied a franchise record for the most extra-base hits in a playoff series. The other players with as many were Steve Garvey (1978 NL Championship Series) and Duke Snider (1952 World Series).
Left-hander Chris Capuano preserved the Dodgers' advantage by pitching three hitless and scoreless innings.
But there were some scares in the late innings. Crawford went head-first into the stands along the left-field line after catching a foul ball in the eighth inning. A.J. Ellis was hit by a pitch on his left elbow in the bottom of the inning.
And after Paco Rodriguez gave up two runs in the ninth inning, Mattingly brought in closer Kenley Jansen to record the final out on what should have been a day off for him.
Twitter: @dylanohernandezCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times