Mookie Betts hit a go-ahead two-run double during a four-run eighth inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers tied the score three batters earlier as Cody Bellinger hit Luke Jackson’s 1-2 four-seam fastball over the fence in right-center field for a three-run homer. The next batter, Chris Taylor singled and stole second, reducing the chance of an inning-ending double play.
Taylor took third as pinch hitter Matt Beaty grounded out. Betts hit the first pitch from Jesse Chavez, who had relieved Jackson after Taylor’s single, into right field for a double.
The victory cut the Dodgers’ deficit in the best-of-seven series to two games to one. Game 4 will be played Wednesday, also at Dodger Stadium.
After Justin Turner popped out for the first out of the eighth, the Dodgers’ chances of winning dropped to 8.1%, according to ESPN.
Manager Dave Roberts said the Dodgers “fed off that energy” from the crowd announced at 51,307.
“It was as loud as I’ve heard Dodger Stadium after that homer and they were loud and energetic all day long,” Roberts said.
The home run continued Bellinger’s postseason success after he hit .165 during a regular season in which he was placed on the injured list three times and missed 61 games because of a left calf contusion, left hamstring tightness and a left rib fracture. Bellinger had the game-winning hits in Games 2 and 5 of the National League Division Series.
Jackson said he “was trying to throw a fastball up and away” on the pitch Bellinger homered on.
“I actually threw it better than I thought I threw it,” Jackson said. “Out of my hand, I was like, `Oh, that’s a ball. It’s too high.’ And no it wasn’t too high. It was, you know, good player put a good swing on it and pretty remarkable.”
When asked what he would have liked to have done differently with that pitch, Jackson responded, “Sad thing is I would do the same thing again.”
The Braves combined four singles, Austin Riley’s double on a ball that went off the glove of center fielder Gavin Lux and two walks, including a bases-loaded walk to Edwin Rosario that forced in Adam Duvall who had singled, for four runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-2 lead.
Atlanta added a run in the fifth. Ozzie Albies led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on Joc Pederson’s fly out and scored on Duvall’s single.
Following Duvall’s fifth-inning single, six Dodger relievers shut out the Braves over the final 4 2/3 innings, limiting them to three hits.
Tony Gonsolin, the eighth of nine Dodger pitchers was credited with the victory, inducing Albies, the only batter he faced, to line out to Taylor in center field on the second pitch he threw to end the eighth inning.
Kenley Jansen struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth for his first save of the 2021 postseason. Jansen was the winning pitcher in the NL wild-card game against the St. Louis Cardinals Oct. 6 and Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants Thursday.
Dodger starter Walker Buehler was relieved with two outs in the fourth, the bases loaded and the Dodgers trailing 4-2. Reliever Alex Vesia retired Freddie Freeman on a line drive to Taylor to end the inning. It was the only pitch Vesia threw as he was pinch hit for in the bottom of the fourth.
Buehler allowed four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out three.
“There’s days where nothing seems to be working, kind of is what it is,” Buehler said. “At some point you have to be better the next one. I don’t really have an explanation at this point.”
Jackson, the fourth of five Braves’ pitchers was charged with the loss, after allowing hits to four of the five batters he faced to begin the eighth, including Bellinger.
Jackson called the loss “a speed bump in the road.”
“I wish it didn’t happen and I wish we were up 3-0 going into Game 4 and having a chance to sweep, but I have no doubt at all in just our team coming back and just stronger tomorrow and ready to recollect and roll.”
The Dodgers opened the scoring in the first inning on a two-run homer by their second batter, Corey Sager. However, they were held scoreless over the next 7 1/3 innings until Bellinger’s home run with one out in the eighth.
Atlanta starter Charlie Morton was lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning after allowing two runs and three hits. He issued a postseason career-high six walks, including four in the first inning, tying Hall of Famer Tom Glavine for the most walks by a Braves pitcher in one postseason inning.
The victory made the Dodgers the seventh team to extend a league championship series to a least five games after falling behind two games to none. Of the 15 previous championship series that included a team trailing two games to none, nine ended in sweeps.
The victory was the Dodgers’ 18th in their last 19 games at Dodger Stadium. The run began with a three-game sweep of Atlanta, Aug. 30-Sept. 1, the start of a franchise-record 15-game home winning streak.
Atlanta has lost its last 10 games at Dodger Stadium, including two postseason contests in 2018.
The victory averted the Dodgers falling into a three games to none deficit, which only one team in baseball has overcome, the 2004 Boston Red Sox, spurred on by a ninth-inning steal of second base in Game 4 by Roberts.
“For us to go down 3-0 and hope for a 2004 miracle run is a tall ask,” Roberts said. “And so we were dead in the water, you could see it. Luke’s coming in and throwing 97 miles an hour and you get a squibber, you get AJ (Pollock) riding a base hit up the middle, to get behind in the count and to hit a homer, it just flipped everything.
“We got a very good ball club, but we just needed that kind of shot in the arm and I’m expecting it to carry over to tomorrow. This is a freaking big hit, big hit.”