Braves 1 win from WS after 10-2 win over Dodgers in NLCS Game 4

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Marcell Ozuna homered twice, MVP candidate Freddie Freeman delivered the go-ahead hit off Clayton Kershaw and the Atlanta Braves moved within one win of ending a two-decade World Series drought by routing the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 on Thursday night.

The Braves took a 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series, bouncing back from getting pounded 15-3 the previous night. Atlanta will try to reach its first World Series since 1999 when it plays Game 5 Friday night.

“Feels good, feels really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Still have a lot of work to do, you know how quick things can turn. I was really proud of the guys, how they bounced back.”

Dustin May, the 23-year-old Texan who has thrown 4 2-3 scoreless innings in three appearances this postseason, will start for the Dodgers with them facing potential elimination. Atlanta will likely go with a bullpen day.

Ozuna had four hits and drove in four runs. It was 1-all in the sixth when the Braves scored six times, with Freeman hitting a tiebreaking double and Ozuna following with an RBI double that chased Kershaw.

A night after the Dodgers had a record 11-run first, they managed only one hit — a solo homer by Edwin Ríos — over six innings against 22-year-old rookie right-hander Bryse Wilson in his postseason debut.

“He was in complete control. … He had a really good look about him. He had good tempo, and the stuff was live,” Snitker said. “It was huge, a huge effort by him.”

While the Braves’ outburst also lasted more than a half-hour but without as many runs as LA’s a day earlier, it was more than big enough enough after Ronald Acuña Jr. led off the decisive six-run sixth with an infield single on a play that ended with him, Kershaw and second baseman Kiké Hernández all on the ground. They all took tumbles because of their effort, and weren’t knocked down by the sometimes bothersome breezy conditions in the new Texas ballpark with the roof open.

Kershaw fell down after coming off the mound while reaching up to try to field the high-chopper. Hernández went to the ground after grabbing the ball and making a sidearm throw then went wide while Acuña tumbled after passing the base and landed awkwardly on his left wrist that was irritated twice during the regular season. Acuña went to second base because of the errant throw after being tended to for several moments.

After trying glasses in the field and getting eyedrops early in the game, Freeman apparently had no problems seeing when he doubled home Acuña for a 2-1 lead before Ozuna followed with another double. Reliever Brusdar Graterol got the first out before giving up three consecutive hits, including Dansby Swanson’s two-run double and Austin Riley’s RBI single. Rookie center fielder Cristian Pache capped the inning with an RBI single made it 7-1.

“They’re similar to us as far as they build on momentum really well,” Kershaw said. “It just seems like they have that domino effect when one thing gets going. They just continue to build on that. And they’ve got great hitters, too.”

Freeman and Ozuna each added RBI singles in the eighth.

Atlanta had gotten even 1-1 in the fourth when Ozuna turned an 86-mph slider from Kershaw into a 109-mph rocket that went 422 feet to left for his second postseason homer. Ozuna went even deeper in the seventh, a 434-foot shot to straight away center.

Wilson became the third-youngest pitcher to allow one or no hits over at least six innings in a postseason game. The right-hander struck out five and walked one, starting with a 1-2-3 first on 10 pitches and throwing his last pitch before .

Kershaw, scratched from his scheduled start in Game 2 two days earlier because of back spams, struck out four, walked one and allowed four runs on seven hits in five-plus innings. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is now 11-12 with 4.31 ERA in postseason, as opposed to his 175-76 record and 2.43 ERA in the regular season during his 13 years in the big leagues.

Ríos, batting seventh and the fourth left-hander in a row in the Dodgers starting lineup against Wilson, homered to right leading off the third. The ball landed on the tarp covering the first several rows of seats closest to the field, and separating fans sitting in socially distanced pods of up to four people beyond that.

After being left off the NL Division Series roster because of a groin injury, and not playing in the NLCS opener, Ríos homered when starting the last two games. He had one of the Dodgers’ postseason record five on Wednesday night.

WIND BLOWN

Major League Baseball said it wanted to keep the roof open at $1.2 billion Globe Life Field — barring rain — when the agreement was reached for the new home of the Texas Rangers to host three rounds of the playoffs in the pandemic-shortened season. Fox reported during the telecast that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told umpire Cory Blaser between innings that Kershaw and first baseman Max Muncy were having trouble seeing. The reported wind speed at the start of the game was 6 to 15 mph. Muncy scrambled from foul ground to the infield grass and was still on the move when he caught a high infield pop from Riley to end the second inning.

GIVING ’EM UP

Kershaw has now allowed 27 postseason homers, second most in history behind Andy Pettitte (31). He had been tied for second-most with Verlander before Ozuna’s first blast.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.