Dodgers Force Game Seven, Defeat Braves 3-1

Dodgers Braves

Dodgers 3, Braves 1

The Los Angeles Dodgers used a three-run first inning, a strong start from Walker Buehler, and some fantastic defense from Mookie Betts to pick up a crucial 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. This win evens the series at 3-3 and forces a deciding Game Seven on Sunday.

Dodgers Ambush Fried in the First

After Braves starter Max Fried retired right fielder Mookie Betts to lead off the bottom of the first inning, things quickly turned in the Dodgers favor. Shortstop Corey Seager and third baseman Justin Turner followed Betts by hitting back-to-back home runs. In 56 regular-season innings, Fried had allowed two total home runs.

However, Los Angeles wasn’t finished. First baseman Max Muncy drew a six-pitch walk, which was followed by a single from catcher Will Smith and a run-scoring hit from center fielder Cody Bellinger. As a result, three of the Dodgers’ first six hitters had come across to score.

Buehler Pitches Six Scoreless Innings

The early lead provided some comfort for Buehler, as he managed to work out of early trouble and keep the Braves scoreless through the first six innings. In the second inning, three straight singles gave Atlanta the bases loaded with no one out. This didn’t affect Buehler, as he proceeded to strike out Braves third baseman Austin Riley and right fielder Nick Markakis, and retired center fielder Cristian Pache to get out of the jam.

Buehler also received some help from his defense, primarily from Betts. In the fifth inning, with a runner on first and two outs, Betts provided one of the best plays of the 2020 season. The catch not only fired up Betts and his teammates but kept the Braves scoreless.

“An unbelievable play by an unbelievable player in a big moment,” said Seager. “That’s what you need to win baseball games this time of year.”

Fried Provides Length

Although Fried picked up the loss in Game Six, his ability to rebound from a tough first inning should not go unnoticed. Most importantly, his ability to pitch into the seventh inning provided some much-needed rest for the Braves bullpen. The only relievers they had to use were Darren O’Day (five pitches) and Chris Martin (30 pitches). If Atlanta were to win Game Seven, Fried’s performance will be a big reason why.

“He regrouped,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That was big. He gave us a chance. He held the game there after the first inning for six innings and gave us a chance to come back. We just couldn’t get a big hit.”

Dodgers Bullpen Finishes the Job

In the seventh inning, with Buehler out of the game, Braves left fielder Nick Markakis smoked a leadoff triple down the first base line off reliever Blake Treinen. Atlanta then ended the shutout bid after an RBI double from right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr with one out. However, Treinen retired MVP candidates Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna to escape further damage.

Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen combined to pitch two scoreless innings to close the door and keep the Dodgers’ season alive.

Next Up

In a win-or-go-home scenario, the Braves will call upon talented young starter Ian Anderson. The Dodgers have not announced who will start, but it is believed that they will employ a bullpen game.

“We’re still talking through it,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We have some good names available, but as far as how we deploy these guys, we haven’t figured it out yet.”

First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 p.m Eastern/5:15 Pacific and will be televised on FOX.

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