Tagged in: NL championship

Braves blast 4 HRs, beat Dodgers 9-2 for 3-1 lead in NLCS

Eddie Rosario homered twice in his second four-hit game of the series and six pitchers combined on a four-hitter, giving the Atlanta Braves a 9-2 triumph Wednesday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a commanding 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Game 5 is Thursday at Dodger Stadium, with the Braves one victory from their first pennant in 22 years and the defending World Series champions facing elimination. Last year, the Dodgers trailed 0-2 and 1/3 against the Braves in the NLCS before roaring back to win three consecutive games and claim the pennant at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas.

They’ll need to jump-start their offense to have a shot. Their first five hitters — Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, NL batting champion Trea Turner, Will Smith and Gavin Lux — were a combined 0 for 17.

Rosario became the first player to have two four-hit games in a League Championship Series. He drove in four runs while continuing his torrid postseason hitting, finishing a double short of the cycle. He homered in the second, tripled in the third, singled in the fifth and clocked a three-run homer in the ninth.

The left fielder has hit in every game of this postseason, collecting 14 hits so far. He has struck out once.

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The Braves’ four homers tied a postseason franchise record.

Each of the series’ first three games was decided by one run in the last two innings.

But when it got late, the Dodgers couldn’t generate any comeback magic this time.

Atlanta opener Jesse Chavez combined with Drew Smyly, Chris Martin, A.J. Minter and Tyler Matzek and Will Smith to hold down the Dodgers’ offense.

Los Angeles didn’t get a hit until the fifth and was limited to one the rest of the way.

The Braves wasted no time in jumping all over 20-game winner Julio Urías, who gave up three homers in just 2 2/3 innings. It was the second time he gave up that many in his career; the first time was in his second major league game in 2016.

Rosario drove an 0-2 pitch into the left-field pavilion leading off the second and Adam Duvall followed with a shot to center, the first time the Braves homered back-to-back in the postseason since Oct. 3, 2002, versus San Francisco in Game 2 of the NL Division Series.

Freddie Freeman went deep leading off the third. Two outs later, Rosario tripled to deep right on a two-strike pitch, sliding headfirst into the bag. Duvall was intentionally walked and Joc Pederson singled to center, scoring Rosario for a 4-0 lead.

The Dodgers closed to 5-2 in the fifth on pinch-hitter AJ Pollock’s two-out, two-run single. Justin Turner singled for their first hit of the game and Cody Bellinger followed with a single and stolen base.

Freeman’s RBI double in the ninth made it 6-2 before Rosario went deep.

Urías didn’t record a strikeout until the fourth, when Dansby Swanson and Freeman went down swinging back-to-back to end the left-hander’s first clean inning.

Urías gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked three.

Urías started on two days’ rest, having thrown an inning of relief in Game 2 at Atlanta. He gave up two runs on three hits, including a tying double to Austin Riley. Duvall robbed Lux of a home run with a leaping catch at the wall in center in the second.

Duvall went to the warning track in the seventh to catch a ball hit by Bellinger, who hit a tying, three-run homer in the Dodgers’ eighth-inning rally that helped win Game 3 on Tuesday.

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Down 2-0, Dodgers have Braves where they want them at home

Trailing 2-0 in the NL Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the Atlanta Braves right where they want them. At their house.

The Braves’ last victory at Dodger Stadium was June 9, 2018. They’ve lost nine consecutive in Los Angeles, getting swept in a three-game series in late August and were shut out twice in the 2018 NL Division Series.

Going back to the 2013 NLDS, the Braves have dropped 19 of their last 22 in LA.

The Dodgers were an MLB-best 58-23 at home, ending the regular season on franchise-record 15-game winning streak at Chavez Ravine. But as a wild-card team, they don’t have home-field advantage in the NL playoffs despite 106 victories.

“We’re back home,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Monday. “We expect to win Game 3.”

The series resumes Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles is a 3-2 favorite,

“They’re just really good here, really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s fun to come out here. Dodger Stadium is an electric place and the weather’s nice.”

Charlie Morton (0-1, 3.86 ERA in the postseason) starts for the Braves. Walker Buehler (0-1, 3.38), a 16-game winner in the regular season, takes the mound for the Dodgers.

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“If the baseball sayings are right, you’re only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher,” All-Star pitcher Max Scherzer said, “and so we got Walk going on the mound and we definitely believe we can win with him. Our mindset is just win the next game.”

Buehler will start on two extra days’ rest after opening Game 4 of the NLDS on short rest a week ago.

“I got a little sick in San Francisco, but I’m feeling all right, so no worse for the wear,” he said Monday, declining to specify what or how he felt ill.

The Cy Young Award contender has proven to be reliable in big matches, with a 2.50 ERA in 13 postseason starts.

“With Walker being on extra rest, I think to have him, to push him, go deeper is certainly a very good option,” Roberts stated.

The Dodgers expect to have Justin Turner back at third base. He was reduced to pinch-hitting in Game 2 due to a neck injury, ending his streak of 77 consecutive postseason starts. He’s struggled at the plate in the postseason, hitting .050 versus San Francisco in the NLDS.

The Dodgers have been down before against Atlanta. Playing last postseason at a neutral site in Texas, they overcame a 1/3 deficit to defeat the Braves in the NLCS. LA went on to win its first World Series championship since 1988.

After last year, the 88-win Braves aren’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s like one of those things where you can’t stop now, you got to continue to apply the pressure,” said third baseman Austin Riley, whose RBI single won Game 1.

Snitker added, “With a year’s experience and in the same position these guys are better versed for it right now.”

Game 4 is Wednesday and a possible Game 5 the following day, cutting out any rest for the bullpen and seemingly making it harder for the Dodgers to use their starters in relief, as they did in the first two matches.

The Braves made history as just the second team ever to win the first two games of a League Championship Series on walk-offs, joining the 1969 Baltimore Orioles. Historically, teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven postseason major league series go on to win the series 84% of the time.

Along with his teammates, Atlanta slugger Freddie Freeman will be looking to reset in LA. He’s 0 for 8 in the series, striking out seven times. “He can get hot at any moment,” Roberts said.

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