Tagged in: one victory

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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Novak Djokovic ends Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev’s golden run

Novak Djokovic had a perfect record in Australian Open semifinals, and he was playing almost flawless tennis to protect it.

It didn’t matter that across the net was Aslan Karatsev, a 114th-ranked, 27-year-old Russian who had come through qualifying to make his debut in a Grand Slam tournament after nine failed attempts.

Djokovic made only one unforced error in more than 50 minutes.

It was tight for the first seven games — before Djokovic reeled off eight consecutive points to win the first set — and again when Karatsev went on an all-or-nothing roll late in the second set.

Sensing a shift in support for the underdog — there was a vocal crowd at Rod Laver Arena after a five-day span when fans were barred during a local COVID-19 outbreak — Djokovic moved up a gear and finished off his opponent 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

He’s now 9-0 in semifinals at the season-opening major, and one victory from a ninth Australian title.

“The more I win, the better I feel coming back,” the top-ranked Djokovic said. “The love affair continues.”

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Djokovic, 33, will have a day off Friday when No. 4 Daniil Medvedev and No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is coming off a five-set victory over Rafael Nadal, meet in the other semifinal. Djokovic said he’d have a rest and get the popcorn ready to watch and see who he gets to face in Sunday’s final.

Given his past success in Melbourne, Djokovic should feel confident going into another championship match.

He already owns a record eight Australian titles, and he’s aiming for an 18th major title, which would reduce the gap to Roger Federer and Nadal, who share the men’s record at 20.

Djokovic also is aiming to be only the second man to attain nine or more titles at one of the four Grand Slams. Nadal has 13 at Roland Garros. Djokovic, in Australia, and Federer, with eight at Wimbledon, currently share second place.

“Recovery is the priority right now,” Djokovic said. “I’ve had enough match play, enough practice.

“Right now it’s just gathering all the necessary energy for the most important match of the Australian Open.”

Djokovic has been bothered by an abdominal muscle problem since the third round. He initially stated it was a tear, but has since refused to talk about the details until after the tournament.

After his victory over Karatsev, he said it’s “the best as I’ve felt the entire tournament.” “I felt great. I could swing through the ball. No pain. Best match so far,” Djokovic said. “It came at the right time. I’m thrilled to feel this way.”

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