LOS ANGELES -- Is it a coincidence the Los Angeles Dodgers are playing their best baseball as the trade deadline approaches?
Probably, but this is a team that has tended to be able to turn it on at critical junctures. The Dodgers won their season-high fifth straight game, beating the Atlanta Braves 3-2 in the 10th inning at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday to make their needs seem like wants going into Thursday's 1 p.m. trade deadline.
How it happened: Zack Greinke dominated a strikeout-prone Atlanta offense for eight innings, and Matt Kemp continued to play his best baseball since early 2012. Kemp won it for the Dodgers with an RBI single in the 10th inning. It was his ninth career walk-off RBI but his first since 2012.
The Dodgers couldn't do much against tricky lefty Alex Wood, so they were in a 1-1 game in the eighth inning. That's when Kemp used his legs to hustle out a two-out run, scoring from second on Juan Uribe's chopper up the middle, which Andrelton Simmons smothered in shallow center field.
Hits: Greinke had a lively fastball and good off-speed pitches, and the result was 13 strikeouts, his season high. On the other hand, much of it had to do with whom he was facing. The Atlanta Braves are extraordinarily susceptible to swinging and missing. Leadoff hitter B.J. Upton, for example, has already struck out 134 times this season. Greinke got him three times swinging and one time looking. In general, Greinke has looked every bit the lockdown wingman to Clayton Kershaw that the Dodgers hoped he would be. He has given up only nine hits and has struck out 21 over his past 15 innings.
Misses: Adrian Gonzalez, along with Kemp, was one of the hottest hitters in the majors coming into Wednesday. He was batting .400 since the All-Star break, but he ran into a tough matchup in Wood, a tall lefty who throws from a low, three-quarters arm angle. Gonzalez struck out twice and hit a weak grounder. In his last two at-bats, against a right-hander, he had a strikeout and double-play ball. The Dodgers can only hope the 0-for-5 experience doesn't send Gonzalez in the other direction, because he has been as streaky as they come this season.
Stat of the game: Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti ended all residue of suspense by saying he wouldn't trade Kemp before Thursday afternoon's trade deadline. Seemed like a foregone conclusion, considering Kemp is batting .428 since the All-Star break and has homered three times in the past two games.
Up next: The Dodgers go for their second three-game sweep in a row behind ace Kershaw (12-2, 1.76 ERA) in a 7:10 p.m. game. The Dodgers will face a tough right-hander, Julio Teheran (10-6, 2.71).