MLB: Dodgers win battle of Wills, send NLCS to Game 6
Corey Seager hit two home runs, Will Smith belted a go-ahead, three-run shot off his namesake and the Los Angeles Dodgers stayed alive in the National League Championship series with a 7-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday at Arlington, Texas.
The Braves still lead the best-of-seven series three games to two. Game 6 is Saturday afternoon.
In a unique sixth-inning matchup, Braves left-hander Will Smith (1-1) faced off against young Dodgers slugger Will Smith. It was the hitter who got the best of it when he crushed a 3-2 fastball into the seats in left field with two aboard as the Dodgers took a 4-2 lead, their first advantage of the game.
“It was exciting,” the Dodgers’ Smith said. “I faced him last year once in the regular season, but that was a big swing for us. It put us ahead, and that was awesome.”
Seager got the Dodgers started offensively with a solo shot in the fourth inning and put the game away with a two-run blast in a three-run seventh inning as Los Angeles built a 7-2 lead. Dodgers leadoff hitter Mookie Betts added a run-scoring single in the seventh, his first RBI of the series.
Braves left-hander A.J. Minter shined in his first career start as a professional, throwing three scoreless innings and striking out seven. Travis d’Arnaud and Cristian Pache and drove in early runs for Atlanta.
Minter’s outing came after 139 regular-season relief appearances and five postseason appearances out of the bullpen over four seasons. He gave up one hit and no walks while throwing a career-high 42 pitches.
“It was hard to take him out,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He was really efficient. He emptied the tank that last inning and it was an inning more than I thought we’d get out of him, maybe an inning and a half more than I thought we’d get out of him.
“The bullpen is going to be good enough now.”
The Braves took an early 2-0 lead on a sacrifice fly from d’Arnaud in the first inning and an RBI single to center from rookie Pache in the second.
Atlanta squandered a scoring chance in the third inning when Marcell Ozuna left too soon from third base while tagging up on a fly ball to right by Dansby Swanson. Ozuna was ruled out via replay.
With Minter finally out of the game, Seager hit his first home run to center field on the fourth pitch from Minter’s replacement, left-hander Tyler Matzek. His home run in the seventh, to center off right-hander Jacob Webb, gave him four in the series to go with 10 RBIs.
Dodgers starter Dustin May went just two innings, giving up two runs (one earned) and throwing 55 pitches. He was followed by a string of six relievers, and Blake Treinen (1-1) pitched two perfect innings to earn the victory.
“We’ve talked about it all year, the strength of the bullpen, and to a man those guys stepped up,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Dustin stepped up many times over, so it was good to see everyone hold their own tonight. … They’ll all be ready to go tomorrow.”
Los Angeles left fielder Chris Taylor was lifted for a pinch hitter in the ninth, a half-inning after hurting his right ankle in the field. He was undergoing tests and treatment postgame, according to Roberts.
The Dodgers will look to extend the series on Saturday when they send right-hander Walker Buehler to the mound. The Braves will counter with left-hander Max Fried, who gave up one run over six innings in Game 1. Buehler allowed one run in five-plus innings during the series opener.