The National League Championship Series is set to resume Saturday in Cumberland, Georgia with the Los Angeles Dodgers playing a second must-win game as they seek to return to the World Series.
The Dodgers avoided elimination Thursday with an 11-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium as Chris Taylor hit three home runs and drove in six runs and AJ Pollock hit two home runs and drove in four runs.
“I never thought I was going to hit three homers in a game, let alone a postseason game, and it just still hasn’t really sunk in,” Taylor said after the Dodgers cut their deficit in the best-of-seven series to 3-2 with their seventh consecutive victory when facing elimination.
Taylor became the 11th player, and second Dodger, to hit three home runs in a postseason game, joining Kiké Hernandez, who accomplished the feat in Game 5 of the 2017 NLCS against the Chicago Cubs.
Taylor had the opportunity to be the first player to hit four home runs in a postseason game, but struck out to end the eighth inning, before a crowd announced at 51,363.
“I was trying to have a good at-bat and hit a ball hard and if it happened, it happened,” Taylor said. “I can’t go up there thinking about hitting a homer. I’m just trying to hit line drives.”
Batting seventh and playing third base in place of the injured Justin Turner, Taylor gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the second inning with a two-run homer off Max Fried, two batters after Pollock’s solo homer.
In the third, Taylor singled in Pollock, who singled with one out and moved to second on Albert Pujols’ single.
Fried was lifted after walking Albert Pujols with two outs in the fifth inning. Taylor was the first batter to face Chris Martin. Taylor took two sinkers for strikes, then hit his second two-run homer to increase the Dodgers’ lead to 6-2.
Taylor hit a solo homer in the seventh inning off Dylan Lee, the third of four Braves’ pitchers.
Pollock hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning off Jacob Webb, the fourth Atlanta pitcher, three batters after Trea Turner singled in Mookie Betts, who singled leading off the inning and stole second base.
The Dodgers had 17 hits — four by Taylor and three each by Trea Turner, Pollock and Cody Bellinger — one game after being limited to four hits in a 9-2 loss.
The Dodgers had their second bullpen game of the series, with seven pitchers limiting the Braves to two runs and five hits, while striking out nine and not walking a batter.
Both runs came off the starter, Joe Kelly, on a two-run homer by Freddie Freeman, the third Atlanta batter.
Kelly faced one more batter, retiring Austin Riley on a groundout, then left the game after two-thirds of an inning and throwing 28 pitches because of what manager Dave Roberts said was a bicep strain that will sideline him for the remainder of the postseason.
David Price “is obviously at the top of the list” to replace Kelly, Roberts said.
Evan Phillips, the second Dodger pitcher, was credited with the victory, retiring all four batters he faced, striking out three, in his second appearance since Oct. 1.
Fried was charged with the loss, allowing five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking two.
“Physically felt great,” said Fried, who allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings in the Braves’ 3-2 victory in Game 1 Saturday, striking out five with no walks.
“Just a really good aggressive lineup, hit some pitches over the middle. I wasn’t executing on the corners like I normally do and when you leave the balls over the middle, normally damage happens.”