Mookie Betts homered and drove in three races, Will Smith also went deep and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants 7-2 on Tuesday night to force a decisive Game 5 of their NL Division Series.
The 107-win Giants host the 106-win Dodgers Thursday night, with the winner advancing to face Atlanta in the NL Championship Series. Braves eliminated Milwaukee earlier Tuesday.
San Francisco won the NL West with a game over the Dodgers in a historic race that went down to the final day of the regular season. Now these big rivals are ready for a winner-take-all showdown.
“I think it’s only appropriate,” said Los Angeles ace Walker Buehler.
The Wild-card Dodgers only managed five hits during a 1-0 loss in Game 3 — the second time they were shut out in this series — to put the defending World Series champions on the brink of elimination. Los Angeles had so many at the second inning Tuesday, knocking 12 in total to back up a short but effective outing from Buehler on a three-day rest.
Buehler went to manager Dave Roberts already in the Dodgers’ 9-2 win in Game 2 and said he wanted the ball in Game 4 to start on short rest for the first time in his career. The right hand allowed one run and three strokes in 4 1/3 innings. He hit four and went two in 71 places.
“I actually felt great,” Buehler said. “Probably the best I’ve had in the second half. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow, but tonight I felt pretty good. ”
After giving up a leadoff single to Evan Longoria and walking pinch hitter Steven Duggar, Buehler went out to a standing ovation from 52,935 blue towel-waving fans.
Dodgers chased starter Anthony DeSclafani in the second. He gave up two runs and five strokes and knocked out two.
The Giants ran through six pitches with the fifth, leaving them with just three reliefs. By the seventh, only backup catcher Curt Casali was available from the bench, and he knife-hit in the eighth.
The biting, steady wind that prevailed throughout Game 3 was gone, leaving only a light breeze to peel the midfield flags.
Smith hit a two-run homer to center in the eighth and extended the lead to 7-2.
Betts homered in the fourth, and his baseload sacrificial fly scored Cody Bellinger in the fifth for a 5-1 lead.
The Giants’ runs came in the top of the fifth on Darin Ruf’s RBI groundout off Joe Kelly, and Kris Bryants RBI groundout in the eighth. All-Star catcher Buster Posey, a career .257 hitter in the offseason, went 0 for 4.
Buehler was initially safe in front of the fourth as his shot went off reliever Jarlin Garcia’s leg for a foul. Betts followed with a two-run homer to the right field pavilion and extended the lead to 4-0.
The Dodgers came on the board in the first with NL striker Trea Turners RBI double-right-center rolling to the wall and scoring Corey Seager who single-handedly.
Chris Taylor’s sacrificial fly made it 2-0 in the second.
San Francisco had runners in the corners in the second on consecutive single-out singles by Bryant and LaMonte Wade Jr. But Buehler came out of the jam, retiring Longoria on a swinging strike and Mike Yastrzemski on a liner for another.
Last postseason, the Dodgers went 3-0 in elimination games and gathered from a 3-1 deficit to beat Atlanta in the NLCS.
Dodgers relief Brusdar Graterol hit sixth as six of his seven spots at 101 mph or better. He retired on three of four strokes, with only Bryant reaching an infield single at first. Graterol retired Posey, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores and Longoria on groundouts.
The game was briefly delayed to start eighth when a fan ended up on the warning track in the right field corner. Several security guards attacked the intruder, who was handcuffed and escorted away.
Giants: RHP Logan Webb starts Game 5 on Thursday. He dominated the Dodgers in the series opener, hitting 10 over 7 2/3 innings to beat Buehler 4-0.
Dodgers: LHP Julio Urías starts the win-take-all game. The Majors’ lone 20-game winner this season led MLB by a .870 winning percentage and then put Los Angeles to a 9-2 victory in Game 2.
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