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Dodgers edge Braves in Game 3 of NLCS

Bellinger ties it with a three-run home run and Betts drives in the go-ahead run.
Mookie Betts connects for a double that drives in the go-ahead run as the Dodgers rally past the Braves with a four-run eighth inning in Game 3 of  National League Championship Series.
Mookie Betts connects for a double that drives in the go-ahead run as the Dodgers rally past the Braves with a four-run eighth inning in Game 3 of National League Championship Series. [ MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ | AP ]
Published Oct. 20

LOS ANGELES — Cody Bellinger keeps erasing a forgettable regular season, with his latest big swing putting the Dodgers right back in the NL Championship Series.

Bellinger hit a tying, three-run homer and Mookie Betts then lined an RBI double in the Dodgers’ eighth-inning rally, storming back to beat Atlanta 6-5 Tuesday and cutting the Braves’ lead in the series to 2-1.

“It’s hard to remember a bigger hit, with what was at stake,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I’m kind of exhausted now.”

Some of the 51,307 fans had already left when the Dodgers were down to their final five outs and facing a 3-0 deficit in the series. Bellinger swung and missed two pitches down the middle, going to his knees in the dirt.

“Ball’s coming in hard, some shadows you’re dealing with, so I saw it well and I just tried to barrel it up,” Bellinger said. “Just continue to barrel up the ball and pass the baton.”

Bellinger drove a shoulder-high, 95.6-mph fastball from Luke Jackson into the rightfield pavilion, igniting the blue towel-waving crowd and reviving the hopes of the defending World Series champions.

“Sad thing is I would do the same thing again,” Jackson said. “I was trying to throw a fastball up and away. I actually threw it better than I thought I threw it. Out of my hand, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a ball. It’s too high.’ And no, it wasn’t too high. Good player, put a good swing on it and pretty remarkable.”

Chris Taylor singled, stole second and moved to third on pinch-hitter Matt Beaty’s groundout. Betts followed with the double off Jesse Chavez to right-center.

“One of our strong suits is not worrying about what happened yesterday, focusing on right now,” Betts said.

Game 4 is today at Dodger Stadium.

“We can do it, we’re confident,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “There is going to be no residual effects after this game.”

The Dodgers had lost all 83 previous postseason games — in both Los Angeles and Brooklyn — in which they trailed by three or more runs in the eighth inning or later.

But that’s history now. And so are Bellinger’s recent struggles.

The 2019 NL MVP, Bellinger batted .165 this year with a .240 on-base percentage and 94 strikeouts in 315 at-bats. But last week he had a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning of the decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the Giants.

“Fresh start,” Bellinger said of the postseason. “At least for me this year it’s a fresh start. You know, a tough regular season but you know, I felt good towards the end of the season, and just try to continue that feel all the way through.”

Bellinger’s done this before, too. After the Dodgers overcame a 3-1 deficit against Atlanta in the NLCS last year, his tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning won Game 7.

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With the cheering, chanting crowd on its feet in the ninth, Kenley Jansen struck out the side to earn the save, the ninth pitcher used by the Dodgers. They ran through a combined 15 in the first two games.

The Dodgers have dominated the Braves at home in recent years and were an MLB-best 58-23 during the regular season.

The Braves haven’t won at Dodger Stadium since June 8, 2018. Going back to the 2013 NLDS, the Braves have dropped 20 of their last 23 in LA.

It sure looked like they’d end that skid after leading 5-2 in the fifth.

After Corey Seager’s two-run shot gave them an early lead, the Dodgers’ offense stalled out from the second to eighth innings, with only five hits.

“It’s never going to just be easy and handed to us,” Bellinger said. “We got to fight for it.”

But the wild-card winner staged another improbable comeback late, just like the Dodgers have done so often this postseason.

They beat St. Louis in the NL wild-card game, then edged 107-win San Francisco in the NLDS.

Despite trailing the best-of-seven series, the Dodgers have grabbed the momentum. They’re at home for the next two games.

The Braves built their lead with a bunch of singles, pounding out 12 hits, and a dropped flyball by novice centerfielder Gavin Lux.

Freddie Freeman broke out of his slump, going 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored after he struck out seven times in eight at-bats in the first two games.

Adam Duvall went 2-for-5, driving in two runs and scoring another for the Braves. Every Atlanta batter got on base at least once.

Tony Gonsolin got the victory, recording one out in relief. Jackson took the loss.

Eddie Rosario and Freeman jump-started the Braves with back-to-back singles off Walker Buehler to open the game.

The Braves quieted the crowd of 51,307, knocking around Buehler and taking a 4-2 lead in the fourth.

Atlanta got RBI singles from Joc Pederson, Duvall and Dansby Swanson, and Buehler walked Rosario on four pitches with the bases loaded to force in a run.

Swanson’s hit off his former Vanderbilt teammate went off the glove of shortstop Seager and rolled into left, allowing Pederson to score the go-ahead run as the Braves batted around.

Seager’s wasn’t the only miscue in the fourth. Lux chased Austin Riley’s double to the warning track in right-center only to have the ball go off his glove to keep the inning going.

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