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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.

Braves clinch postseason spot with 10-1 win over Nationals

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The Braves clinched a postseason berth with Saturday’s 10-1 win over the Nationals. Now, the only question is whether they’ll get there with an NL East division title or via one of two wild card spots currently up for grabs.

Granted, things are looking pretty good on the division title front. After losing their second straight game to the Braves, the Nationals sit 10.5 games back of first place in the NL East, and every other division rival is at least 15 games out. The Braves, meanwhile, carry a magic number of four; should they clinch, it’ll be their 19th franchise title and 14th since they migrated to the East division in 1994.

They certainly looked like postseason contenders on Saturday. Mike Foltynewicz led the charge with six innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball, limiting the Nationals to four hits while rookie right-hander Austin Voth kept the Braves scoreless through 5 2/3 frames. Things started to tip in Atlanta’s favor in the sixth inning: Nick Markakis put the team on the board with an RBI single, and a four-run breakout in the seventh helped cement a sizable lead. Over the last three innings, the Braves found opportunity after opportunity against the Nationals’ bullpen, capitalizing on walks, throwing errors, and productive outs as they climbed toward a double-digit finish.

The win didn’t come without some sacrifice, however. The Braves lost Charlie Culberson to a facial injury after he was struck by a Fernando Rodney fastball in the seventh inning, and they’ll likely be without him for the remainder of the regular season — pending a formal diagnosis, of course. Culberson’s loss isn’t the only one the club is feeling right now, either, as Johan Camargo ended his season with a hairline fracture in his right shin and Freddie Freeman is playing through a minor bout of elbow soreness after making an early exit from Friday’s 5-0 shutout.