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Dodgers defeat Braves 6-2, advance to NLCS for third straight season

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The Dodgers are headed to the NLCS for a third consecutive season. They won the NLDS three games to one after winning 6-2 in Atlanta on Monday night.

Rich Hill got the start for the Dodgers and was staked to a 1-0 lead before he even took the mound, as Manny Machado knocked in a run with a double in the top of the first. Hill held the Braves scoreless for three innings, but got himself into hot water to start the fourth, issuing back-to-back walks to Johan Camargo and Tyler Flowers. Ender Inciarte moved both runners up with a bunt. Hill then got Charlie Culberson to sharply ground out, keeping both runners put, making it seem like he would be able to see his way out of the jam. However, Kurt Suzuki came through with a two-run single to left field to put the Braves on the board and in the lead 2-1.

Mike Foltynewicz got the start for the Braves and gave up just the one run in four innings of work. The Dodgers were able to muster a rally in the sixth facing reliever Jonny Venters as Enrique Hernández singled with one out and Yasiel Puig singled with two away to put runners on the corners. David Freese pinch-hit for Ryan Madson, prompting Braves manager Brian Snitker to bring in right-hander Brad Brach. Puig stole second base unconstested and it immediately paid dividends as Freese was able to sneak a single into center field, scoring both runs to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.

The Dodgers’ offense didn’t stop there. In the seventh, Justin Turner led off with a single and Max Muncy drew a walk against Chad Sobotka, bringing up Manny Machado. Machado fell behind 0-2, then fouled off a couple 1-2 pitches before turning on a 95 MPH fastball, lining it over the fence in left field for a three-run home run. That pushed the Dodgers’ lead to 6-2.

From there, it was up to the Dodgers’ bullpen. Pedro Báez and Caleb Ferguson combined to work a 1-2-3 seventh. Kenta Maeda got in and out of trouble in the eighth, stranding a pair of runners. The ninth inning was Kenley Jansen‘s, of course. He got Ronald Acuña to ground out, then struck out Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman to end the game, sending the Dodgers to the next round.

The Braves once again fail to advance past the NLDS. The club hasn’t made it to the NLCS since 2001 despite eight postseason appearances since then. The Dodgers will head to Milwaukee for the NLCS, which opens on Friday.

Zack Wheeler hits first career homer

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Mets starter Zack Wheeler wasn’t content with just dominating the Phillies on the mound Tuesday night in Queens. The 28-year-old decided to have himself a three-RBI night at the plate, too, including his first career home run.

With the Mets already leading 3-0 with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Wheeler lifted a first-pitch Zach Eflin fastball out to left-center field, landing well beyond the 370-foot sign on the wall. Wheeler had previously helped his own cause, lacing a two-run double down the right field line off of Eflin in the second inning.

Wheeler entered the night with 22 hits in 194 career trips to the plate. Of his 22 hits, five went for extra bases (all doubles). On the mound, through six innings, Wheeler has held the Phillies scoreless on five hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts.

Todd Frazier broke the game open in the fifth inning, hitting a grand slam off of Drew Anderson to push the Mets’ lead to 8-0. If the Phillies lose tonight, they will have lost five of their last six games.