The Los Angeles Dodgers forced a decisive seventh game of the National League Championship Series with a 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves Saturday.
All the Dodger runs came in the first inning as they won their second consecutive game while facing elimination as they attempt to become the 14th MLB team to overcome a three-games-to-one deficit and win a best-of-seven series.
Batting as the home team, the second Dodger batter, Corey Sager, hit his team-record sixth home run of the postseason, fifth of the series and third in two games. Justin Turner homered one pitch later.
The next batter, Max Muncy, walked on a full-count slider from Max Fried, advanced to third on Will Smith’s single and scored on Cody Bellinger’s single.
Dodger starter Walker Buehler scattered seven hits over six shutout innings, striking out six with no walks, for the victory as the Dodgers evened the series at three games apiece.
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth, with all the batters retired on balls hit in the air, for his second save of the 2020 postseason and first since the postseason opener Sept. 30.
Game 7 will be played Sunday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, like the rest of the series. The final three rounds of baseball’s postseason are being played at neutral sites in an attempt to reduce the possibility of spreading the coronavirus.
The Dodgers have not announced their Game 7 starter. Rookie right-hander Ian Anderson will start for Atlanta. Anderson is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 15 2/3 innings in the 2020 postseason.
Anderson started the Braves 8-7 victory in Game 2 Tuesday, allowing one hit in four shutout innings, but did not figure in the decision because he did not pitch the required five innings needed for a victory.
Buehler pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the second inning Saturday.
Travis d’Arnaud, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson singled to load the bases, but Buehler struck out Austin Riley on a foul tip caught by catcher Austin Barnes, Nick Markakis took a 99.7-mph four-seam fastball on a 2-2 pitch for a called third strike and Cristian Pache grounded out to end the inning.
Atlanta’s other scoring threat against Buehler came in the sixth. Swanson singled with two outs, stole second and moved to third on Barnes’ throwing error but Riley struck out to end the inning.
The Braves lone run came in the seventh off right-hander Blake Treinen, the first of three Dodger relievers.
Markakis, the first batter to face Treinen, tripled for Atlanta’s first extra-base hit of the game, and scored one out later on a double by Ronald Acuna Jr., its other.
Acuna was the last Braves batter to reach base. Freddie Freeman struck out and Marcell Ozuna flied out to strand him. Pedro Baez pitched a perfect eighth.
Fried, the first of four Atlanta pitchers, was charged with the loss, allowing three runs and eight hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking four.
Saturday’s victory was the Dodgers 117th postseason victory and third in which they scored all their runs in the first inning, according to ESPN Stats & Info. It was the first time they had accomplished that feat since a 1-0 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the 1963 World Series.
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