Cody Bellinger continues to erase a forgettable regular season, with his latest big turn putting the Los Angeles Dodgers right back in the NL Championship Series.
Bellinger hit a binding, three-run homer and Mookie Betts then made an RBI double in the Dodgers ‘eighth inning rally, storming back to beat Atlanta 6-5 on 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,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I’m a little tired now.”
Some of the 51,307 fans had already left when the Dodgers were down on their last five outs and faced the daunting prospect of a 3-0 deficit in the series. Bellinger swung and missed two lanes down the middle for strikes and went on his knees in the dirt.
“The ball comes in hard, some shadows you have to deal with, so I saw it well and I was just trying to barrel it up,” Bellinger said. “Just keep thinning the ball up and sending the baton.”
Bellinger drove a shoulder-high, 95.6 mph fastball from Luke Jackson into the right field pavilion, ignited the blue towel-waving crowd and revived the hopes of the defending World Series champions.
“Sad is that I would do the same thing again,” Jackson said. “I tried 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, it’s a ball. It’s too high. ‘And no, it was not too high. Good player, take a good turn on it and pretty remarkable. ”
Chris Taylor singled out, stole second and moved to third on pinch hitter Matt Beatty’s groundout. Betts followed with the double next to Jesse Chavez on the right in the middle.
“One of our strong suits is not to worry about what happened yesterday, focusing on right now,” Betts said.
Match 4 is Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
“We can do it, we’re convinced of it,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “There will be no residual effects after this game.”
The Dodgers had lost all 83 previous games of the season – in both Los Angeles and Brooklyn – where they escaped with three or more runs in the eighth inning or later.
But that’s history now. And the same is Bellinger’s latest matches.
2019 NL MVP, Bellinger hit a lousy .165 this year with a paltry .240 base percentage and 94 strikeouts in 315 bats. He helped redeem himself last week with an uninterrupted single in the ninth inning of the crucial Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the rival Giants in San Francisco.
“New start,” Bellinger said of the off-season. “At least for me this year, it’s a new start. You know, a tough regular season, but you know I was fine towards the end of the season, and just try to keep that feeling going throughout. ”
“Just so you know, stay simple,” he said. “Crazy things happen.”
Bellinger has also done this before. After the Dodgers overcame a 3-1 deficit against Atlanta in the NLCS last year, he won his uninterrupted home run in the seventh inning Game 7.
With the cheering, singing crowd on its feet in the ninth, Kenley Jansen hit the page to earn the save, the ninth pitcher used by the Dodgers. They ran through a total of 15 in the first two games.
Shifted with back-to-back walk-off losses in Atlanta, the Dodgers returned home, where they have dominated the Braves in recent years and were an MLB best 58-23 in the regular season.
The Braves have not won at Dodger Stadium since June 8, 2018. Back at the NLDS 2013, the Braves have lost 20 of their last 23 in LA – they have lost 10 right in Los Angeles overall.
It certainly looked like they would finish that shit after leading 5-2 in the fifth.
After Corey Seager’s two-run shot gave them an early lead, the Dodgers’ offense stalled from second to eighth innings, with just five hits.
“It will never just be easy and handed over to us,” Bellinger said. “We have to fight for it.”
But the wild-card winner staged yet another unlikely comeback late, just as the Dodgers have done so often this postseason.
They beat St. Louis in the NL wild-card game and then edged San Francisco’s 107-win NLDS.
Despite the best of seven series, the Dodgers have grabbed momentum. They are at home in the next two games, knowing they overcame the 3-1 deficit against the Braves in last year’s NLCS at a neutral spot in Arlington, Texas.
The Braves built up their lead with a bunch of singles hitting 12 hits and a fallen flyball by novice center fielder Gavin Lux.
Freddie Freeman broke out of his fall, goes 3 for 4 with a walk and a run scored after knocking out seven times in eight bats in the first two games.
Adam Duvall went 2 for 5, ran in two races and scored another for the Braves. Each Atlanta batter came to the base at least once.
Tony Gonsolin got the win and recorded one in relief.
Jackson took the loss after hammering in the eighth.
Eddie Rosario and Freeman started the Braves with single-back-to-back from Walker Buehler to open the game.
The Braves silenced the crowd of 51,307 as they knocked around Buehler and took a 4-2 lead in the fourth.
Atlanta got RBI singles from Joc Pederson, Duvall and Dansby Swanson, and Buehler went Rosario on four lanes with the bases loaded to force in another race.
Swanson’s blow from his former Vanderbilt teammate went out of the glove to shortstop Seager and rolled in to the left, allowing Pederson to score the green light while the Braves struck around.
The Seagers were not the only foul in the fourth. Lux chased Austin Riley’s double to the right-wing warning lane to just get the ball off the glove to keep the inning going.
Buehler was jerked after leaving Rosario. Buehler worked on two extra days of rest, allowing four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. The right hand hit three and went three on 76 lanes.
Buehler put on short rest for the first time in his career in Game 4 of the NLDS. He did not win, but the Dodgers equalized the series and forced a decisive fifth game.
Atlanta extended its lead to 5-2 in the fifth on Duvall’s RBI single, scoring Ozzie Albies, who went and stole second.
The Dodgers had Charlie Morton on the ropes in the first, when he tied a post-season record with four trips on 34 courses. The right hand went leadoff hitter Betts and Seager followed with a homer to center for a 2-0 lead.
Morton then loaded the bases on consecutive two-out trips to Justin Turner, Lux and Bellinger before Taylor put up the cards to finish inning.
Morton allowed two runs and three hits on five innings. The right hand struck five and went six.
SOUND FROM GUILTY
Hall of Fame television host Vin Scully gave the traditional invitation to the prequel “It’s time for Dodger baseball!” via video from his home in Los Angeles. Then he struck his fist against the heart and drew cheers from the crowd. Scully, who turns 94 next month, retired in 2016 after 67 years calling for games for the Brooklyn and LA franchise.
LHP Julio Urías starts for the Dodgers in Game 4 on Wednesday. The Braves planned a bullpen game.
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