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Braves beat Dodgers on walkoff single, lead NL Championship Series 2-0

Atlanta ties the score in the eighth inning and wins the game on Eddie Rosario’s two-out hit in the ninth.
The Braves' Eddie Rosario, middle, celebrates with Joc Pederson after scoring on a single by Ozzie Albies during the eighth inning. Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias is to the right.
The Braves' Eddie Rosario, middle, celebrates with Joc Pederson after scoring on a single by Ozzie Albies during the eighth inning. Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias is to the right. [ WALLY SKALIJ | Los Angeles Times ]
Published Oct. 18

ATLANTA — The Braves won with a walkoff hit for the second night in a row when Eddie Rosario lined a two-out single off shortstop Corey Seager’s glove in the ninth inning, giving Atlanta a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers on Sunday night and a 2-0 NL Championship Series lead.

Atlanta twice rallied from two-run deficits before Rosario came up with his fourth hit of the game, a 105 mph scorcher up the middle on the first pitch after closer Kenley Jansen reliever. Seager tried for a backhand snag, but the ball skidded off his glove into centerfield.

There was no chance to get Dansby Swanson, who raced around from second with the winning run, dropping his helmet as he crossed the plate — a virtual repeat of Game 1 when Austin Riley came through with a winning hit in the ninth for a 3-2 victory.

“These guys have always been like that,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “They’re never out.”

The series resumes in Los Angeles, where Game 3 is set for Tuesday night.

The Braves need two more victories for their first World Series appearance since 1999, but they can’t celebrate just yet.

Seventy-three of 87 teams taking 2-0 leads in best-of-seven baseball postseason series have gone on to win.

A year ago, however, Atlanta held leads of 2-0 and 3-1 over the Dodgers in the NLCS, only to lose the last three games of a series played in Arlington, Texas, because the pandemic. Los Angeles went on to beat the Rays in the World Series, while the Braves stewed for another shot.

They are halfway to payback after rallying in the eighth off Julio Urias, who pitched three hitless innings to finish Game 7 against the Braves last October.

Seager and Atlanta’s Joc Pederson traded two-run homers — Pederson adding to his “Joctober” lore with his third homer of this postseason and first off his longtime team — before Chris Taylor put the Dodgers ahead again with a two-run hit in the seventh.

Los Angeles wasted chances, going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and dropping to 2-for-18 in the series.

Six outs away from tying the series, the Dodgers brought in expected Game 4 starter Urias to protect the lead before turning it over to Jansen in the ninth.

The 20-game winner couldn’t get it done. Rosario led off with a single and tagged up to move up to second on Freddie Freeman’s flyout to left.

Ozzie Albies lined one to right for another hit off Urias. Rosario zipped around third as third base coach Ron Washington sent him home, just beating the throw with a slide that avoided the swipe by catcher Will Smith.

Then it was Riley, the Game 1 star, coming through again. He ripped a double to wall in right-center, bringing Albies around from first with the tying run.

Dodgers manger Dave Roberts had no regrets about turning to Urias.

”He was the best option at that point in time,” Robert said “He was prepared for it. It was a perfect spot for him.”

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Travis d’Arnaud led off the ninth with a broken-bat single to center on a 101 mph pitch from Brusdar Graterol and was replaced by pinch-runner Cristian Pache. Swanson tried to move Pache along with a bunt, only to have the attempted sacrifice result in a forceout at second when Seager made a backhand stop on Graterol’s bounced, offline throw.

But Swanson got to second himself when Guillermo Heredia grounded out to third base. The Dodgers turned to their closer to face Rosario, who connected on the first pitch for the fifth walkoff in 23 postseason games this year.

Braves closer Will Smith picked up the win with a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, breathing a big sigh of relief when Trea Turner’s drive was caught at the base of the wall in left.

The Dodgers grabbed a 2-0 lead just six pitches into the game against Braves starter Ian Anderson, who came in with a 3-0 record and 0.76 ERA in five postseason starts.

Mookie Betts led off with a single, and Seager launched one over the fence in right-center to stun the raucous crowd.

Pederson brought them back to life with another installment of Joctober in the fourth.

With a runner aboard, Pederson connected on a hanging curve from Max Scherzer for his third homer of this postseason, a 454-foot shot into Chop House restaurant above the rightfield stands.

It was the longest homer by any player in this postseason — and the 12th of Pederson’s career in the games that really matter.

The first nine of those came while Pederson played for the Dodgers. Now, he’s turned the tables with the Braves.

Scherzer, who had earned the first save of his career in the deciding game of the Division Series against the Giants, returned to a more familiar role as Game 2 starter.

But, with only two days of rest between appearances, he departed after just 4-1/3 innings, having thrown 79 pitches. He surrendered four hits, two runs, one walk and struck out seven.

”My arm was dead,” Scherzer said. “I could tell when I was warming up that it was still tired.”

Anderson lasted three innings, lifted for a pinch-hitter after giving up three hits and three walks.

Trainer’s room

A sore neck ended Justin Turner’s streak of 77 consecutive postseason starts.

Turner aggravated his neck in batting practice before Game 1. He went 1-for-4, but Roberts said he could tell Turner was bothered during a 3-2 loss to the Braves.

Turner came in just 3-for-28 in the postseason, but Roberts said the struggles at the plate did not affect his decision to sit his third baseman. The versatile Taylor started in his place.

First pitch

Dale Murphy, one of the Atlanta Braves’ greatest players, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

He did it with flair.

After being introduced, Murphy walked toward the mound wearing a No. 3 jersey that was so familiar during his career, which was highlighted by MVP awards in 1982 and ‘83.

But he stopped abruptly and pulled off the jersey, revealing Hank Aaron’s No. 44 uniform. Aaron died in January and the team has been honoring the Hall of Famer’s memory all season.

But before tossing the pitch, Murphy had one more uniform change. He tugged off the Hammer’s jersey and had on Riley’s No. 27.

Murphy also pulled out a pair of pearls, a tribute to Pederson’s fashion statement.

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