BILL PLASCHKE

Dodgers come home for a joy ride

The Dodgers were so good Sunday, they made everyone forget about the night's only troubling sign, that of starter Hyun-Jin Ryu trying to cover first base and trying to throw to the right base and trying to pitch a strike.

Ryu was awful and unfocused — four runs in three innings — and the Dodgers will need to make certain he is healthy before sending him back out there this October. But, hey, also welcome home Chris Capuano, who replaced Ryu and threw three scoreless innings for the win.

In all, it was a powerful mixture of tradition and team, one the Dodgers will attempt to continue Monday night in attempting to finish off the Braves in Game 4.

They want to avoid a return to Atlanta for an ultimate Game 5, but not so much that they are willing to pitch Clayton Kershaw on three days' rest to finish it now.

While that might prove to be a questionable move, remember, Kershaw has never pitched on short rest and the postseason roadside is littered with desperate teams that moved players out of their comfort zones.

So Dodgers fans will put down the fake tomahawks for a moment and hold their breath as the Dodgers take their chances with Ricky Nolasco. The struggling pitcher, who gave up 17 runs in his last three starts of the regular season, still has one major asset, that being the Dodgers' lineup.

"Our hitting is freedom," said Howell. "It helps all of us pitchers to know that if we can relax just keep it close, those guys can put up crooked numbers anytime."

Sunday night felt like the first taste of freedom from the end of the McCourt era and all the disappointment that followed the Dodgers' last autumn dance.

When the game ended, fans on adjoining escalators were exchanging hand slaps as they headed into the first great October baseball night in this town in a long time.

"This is postseason baseball!" shouted one.

Indeed it is. Welcome home.

bill.plaschke@latimes.com

Twitter:@billplaschke

 

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