Braves earn second straight walk-off win over Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t figured out a way to stop the Atlanta Braves in the bottom of the ninth inning through two games of the National League Championship Series.
So the defending champs will do the next best thing — take last licks themselves over the next two or three games.
Eddie Rosario lined Kenley Jansen’s first pitch off the glove of shortstop Corey Seager and into center field for a walk-off single Sunday night, scoring Dansby Swanson as the host Braves worked their ninth-inning magic for a second consecutive game in a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) October 18, 2021
“We’ve got fight,” said Braves outfielder Joc Pedersen, whose home run erased one of Atlanta’s two two-run deficits in the game. “You can’t teach it. You can’t buy it.”
Rosario finished with four hits and Austin Riley added an RBI double as the Braves completed a two-game home sweep of the defending World Series champs in two games that were tied headed into the ninth.
In this one, Travis d’Arnaud led off the home half of the final inning against Brusdar Graterol (0-1) with a bloop single. After he was forced out at second on a Swanson bunt attempt, the Braves advanced the potential winning run into scoring position on a Guillermo Heredia infield out before Jansen entered the game and Rosario ended it.
“That’s the moment. I love it,” Rosario gushed moments after his hero’s greeting between first and second base. “I’m here to help the guys win the World Series. Everybody’s here for one dream.”
After calling upon two of his top starting pitchers and watching his batters go 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was asked if he thought the wear-and-tear of an uphill battle throughout the regular season and in the NL Division Series against the San Francisco Giants was taking its toll.
“I don’t. Our guys are prepared to play until October,” he insisted. “They’ve had two big innings to take the lead. The series could easily be flipped.”
The best-of-seven series moves to Los Angeles for the next two games and a third if necessary. The Dodgers also trailed the Braves 2-0 in last year’s NLCS before winning four of the next five to advance to the World Series, with all of those games played at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas.
Having blown a one-run lead well before Riley’s game-ending single in Game 1, the Dodgers were six outs from drawing even Sunday when they put the ball in the hands of 20-game winner Julio Urias with a 4-2 lead entering the last of the eighth. But the Braves rallied, getting within one on Ozzie Albies’ RBI single before squaring the game when Riley doubled off the fence in center field, scoring Albies.
“That’s absolutely huge to continue to build the momentum, build the momentum,” Riley said of going up 2-0 before heading west, where the Braves were swept in a three-game series this summer. “(Dodger Stadium) is a tough atmosphere. I feel it’s going to be a tough challenge and I look forward to it.”
Los Angeles also blew a two-run lead after its second batter of the game, Seager, followed a Mookie Betts single with a two-run home run off Atlanta starter Ian Anderson.
Pederson, a former Dodger, got his new club even in the fourth with his two-run shot against Los Angeles starter Max Scherzer.
The Dodgers took their last lead on another two-run hit, this one a bases-loaded, two-out double by Chris Taylor in the seventh for a 4-2 advantage.
Both starting pitchers exited early. Anderson lasted just three innings, charged with two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and three walks. Scherzer wasn’t around much longer, going 4 1/3 innings, during which he allowed two runs and four hits. He walked one and struck out seven.
Rosario’s hit total equaled that of the Dodgers, who were limited to a homer, a double and two singles by eight Atlanta pitchers, including Will Smith (2-0), who was credited with the win after pitching a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.
The Dodgers, who failed to take advantage of nine walks, now have their backs against the wall.
“Both teams are in the same situation,” Roberts claimed afterward, “outside of the most important factor — that they have a two-to-nothing lead.”
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