Braves Bats Come Alive in Ninth to Beat Dodgers

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Braves 5, Dodgers 1
NLCS Game One

The Atlanta Braves scored four runs in the top of the ninth off Blake Treinen and Jake McGee, breaking a 1-1 tie. Mark Melancon then pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth to seal the deal as the Braves beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-1, in Game One of the NLCS Monday night.

Braves Take Early Lead, Dodgers Keep It Close

The pitching matchup – Walker Buehler for the Dodgers and lefty Max Fried for the Braves – looked great on paper, and it did not disappoint the 10,700 in attendance at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Although Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hit a solo homer in the top of the first, it was the only run and only hit Buehler allowed in the first five innings. Buehler scattered five walks across those innings, striking out seven as he left every runner stranded.

Fried was also terrific, blanking the Dodgers in the first four innings. He allowed a single and a walk in each of the first two but escaped unscathed each time. In the first, third baseman Justin Turner punched a two-out single to center and reached second when first baseman Max Muncy followed with a walk. Catcher Will Smith, up next, could not capitalize, striking out to end the inning.

In the second, the Braves had to alter their game plan when left fielder Adam Duvall injured an oblique muscle while fouling off a 1-1 sinker. Cristian Pache took over and walked, his first of two in the game. As mentioned earlier, he did not score, as Buehler struck out the next two hitters. In the bottom of the inning, a one-out single by center fielder AJ Pollock and two-out walk by left fielder Chris Taylor put runners on first and second for right fielder Mookie Betts. Fried escaped when Betts flied to center for the third out.

Dodgers Tie It Up, Braves Immediately Threaten

Fried pitched a perfect third and fourth. Buehler walked one in the third and two in the fourth. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Kiké Hernandez tied the game with a loud leadoff homer to left. Shortstop Corey Seager later singled with two out, but it went for naught when Turner, up next, grounded into a 6-4 force play.

Buehler ran out of gas in the sixth. Back-to-back singles by catcher Travis d’Arnaud and second baseman Ozzie Albies started the frame, so Dodgers manager Dave Roberts replaced Buehler with young fireballer Brusdar Graterol. It took him six pitches to end the threat. Shortstop Dansby Swanson, the first to face him, popped the first pitch up to the second baseman. Pache came up next and fanned on three pitches, bringing up right fielder Nick Markakis, who grounded the second pitch back to the mound, retiring the side.

Fried pitched a 1-2-3 sixth before giving way to Chris Martin in the seventh. He combined with Will Smith and Mark Melancon, who pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively, to pitch a perfect final three innings.

The other Dodgers relievers had a more difficult time. Dustin May pitched a scoreless seventh. Although he combined with Victor Gonzalez to pitch a scoreless eighth, the Braves had loaded the bases before coming up fruitless.

The Ninth

It all fell apart for the Dodgers – and came together for the Braves – in the ninth. Blake Treinen pitched to the first four batters and didn’t miss any bats. Austin Riley – who moved from third base to left field in the bottom of the eighth – led off the ninth with a no-doubt homer off the façade of the second deck in left-center. Ronald Acuña, Jr. followed with a double and reached third when Freeman flied to the track in center, missing a home run by mere feet. Designated hitter Marcell Ozuna plated Acuña with a single to right, chasing Treinen from the game.

Jake McGee took the hill to stop the bleeding. He succeeded, as d’Arnaud popped to short for the second out. That is, McGee succeeded at first, since Albies followed with a drive to left-center that landed near Riley’s blast, providing the final margin for the 5-1 Braves victory.

Outlook

Buehler expressed disappointment in his walk total. “When you walk four or five guys like I have the past couple of outings, that’s not good for anyone. That hasn’t bit us, but I want to be better, and that’s the glaring weakness in what I’ve been doing right now.”

Smith earned the win in relief, while Treinen took the loss. Game Two will pit Braves rookie Ian Anderson (3-2, 1.95 ERA, 41 K; Postseason 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 17 K) against righty Tony Gonsolin (2-2, 2.31 ERA, 46 K), who is making the first postseason start of his career. He is doing so on an emergency basis to fill in for the injured Clayton Kershaw. First pitch will be at 6:05 Eastern/3:05 Pacific. FS1 will broadcast the game on television.

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