Braves rally past Astros to take 3-1 World Series lead
With Game 4 of the World Series slipping away Saturday, Atlanta-area native Dansby Swanson decided to get back to his roots.
His old-school approach worked to perfection as Swanson hit the first of consecutive home runs with Jorge Soler in the seventh inning and the Atlanta Braves rallied for a 3-2 victory over the visiting Houston Astros on Saturday to move one victory away from the title.
Swanson’s one-out home run to right field tied the game 2-all before Soler followed four pitches later with a pinch-hit home run to left as the Braves rallied against Astros right-hander Cristian Javier (0-1).
— MLB (@MLB) October 31, 2021
— MLB (@MLB) October 31, 2021
“This game can be such a challenging game, it can be so hard, and we can get so caught up in results, so caught up in everything else, but the real thing that matters is playing the game to win,” Swanson said on the FOX broadcast. “That’s just where I went. It was like, you know what, let’s get rid of everything else and let’s just compete.”
The Braves, who are 7-0 at home in the postseason, can wrap up their first championship since 1995 with a victory in Game 5 at Atlanta on Sunday.
Teams taking a 3-1 lead in all best-of-seven postseason series have gone on to win that series 76 of 90 times (84%). pic.twitter.com/pwQJDRiVSl
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 31, 2021
Jose Altuve hit a home run, while Zack Greinke pitched four shutout innings for the Astros, who are in danger of falling in the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
The Astros looked like they would break the game open early when they loaded the bases in the first inning against Braves opener Dylan Lee on an Altuve single and walks to Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez.
After recording just one out, Lee was replaced by right-hander Kyle Wright, who retired Carlos Correa on a groundout with Altuve scoring for a 1-0 Astros lead.
Wright escaped further trouble in the first and was charged with his only run of the game when Altuve crushed a home run to center field in the fourth inning for a 2-0 Houston lead. It was Altuve’s second home run of the World Series and fifth of this postseason.
It was also the 23rd postseason homer of Altuve’s career, breaking a tie with the New York Yankees’ Bernie Williams and moving him alone into second place all-time. Manny Ramirez had 29 career postseason home runs.
Wright gave up five hits and three walks in his 4 2/3 innings, but limited the damage.
“Kyle Wright, what he came in and did in that first inning to limit damage right there, he was outstanding,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I’m real proud of him, how he stepped up for us. And the guys, they came in and they kept picking each other up.”
The Astros not only left two runners on base in the first inning, but they left seven on base over the first three innings and 11 on base in the game.
“Usually we pick those runners up,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We left quite a few runners on base. And then we really didn’t have a whole bunch of chances after the first four innings. We had them on the ropes in the first inning and came out with one (run).”
The Braves began to storm back in the sixth inning. An Eddie Rosario double and walk to Freddie Freeman chased Astros left-hander Brooks Raley, with right-hander Phil Maton giving up a two-out RBI single to Austin Riley as Atlanta pulled within 2-1.
Javier struck out Adam Duvall to start the bottom of the seventh before Swanson hit his first home run of the postseason. Soler, who had just two at-bats in the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers while on the COVID-19 list, followed with his second homer of the series as Atlanta went up 3-2.
“This is one of the most enjoyable teams I have ever been able to play on,” Soler, who won the World Series with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, said through an interpreter. “This team has no fear. We always believe in each other.”
Braves left-hander Tyler Matzek (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn the victory. Right-hander Luke Jackson pitched a scoreless eighth and left-hander Will Smith pitched the ninth for his second save of the World Series and the sixth of the postseason.
Astros pitching has given up just five combined runs over the past two games, but doesn’t have a victory to show for it.
“They say good pitching beats good hitting, (but) when you don’t hit they say what’s wrong?” Baker said. “They’ve pitched great against us.”
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