LOS ANGELES – Eddie Rosario homered twice in his second four-hit game of the NL Championship Series and six pitchers combined on a four-hitter, giving the Atlanta Braves a 9-2 victory Wednesday over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a commanding 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff.
Game 5 is Thursday at Dodger Stadium, with the Braves one win from their first pennant in 22 years and the defending World Series champions facing elimination. Last year, the Dodgers trailed 0-2 and 1-3 against the Braves in the NLCS before roaring back to win three straight games at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas.
Los Angeles, which had won 18 of 19 at home going back to the regular season, has won six straight postseason elimination games dating to last year.
Rosario became the first player to have two four-hit games in a League Championship Series. He drove in four runs and scored three while continuing his torrid postseason hitting, finishing a double short of the cycle. He homered in the second inning, tripled in the third, singled in the fifth and clocked a three-run homer in the ninth.
“As soon as I hit that second one out, I go, `Oh well, there goes the double,”‘ Rosario said through a translator.
Rosario was acquired from Cleveland on July 30 as the Braves remade their depleted outfield before the trade deadline.
What a find he’s been.
The left fielder has hit safely in every game of this postseason, piling up 14 hits so far – including a walk-off single in Game 2 against the Dodgers. He has struck out once.
Rosario is 10 for 17 (.588) with two homers and six RBIs in the NLCS.
The Braves’ four homers tied a postseason franchise record.
Each of the series’ first three games was decided by one run in the last two innings.
But when it got late, the Dodgers couldn’t generate any comeback magic this time.
Atlanta opener Jesse Chavez combined with Drew Smyly, Chris Martin, A.J. Minter and Tyler Matzek and Will Smith to hold down the Dodgers’ offense. Los Angeles didn’t get a hit until the fifth and was limited to one the rest of the way.
Smyly went 3 1/3 innings for the win.
The Braves wasted no time in jumping all over 20-game winner Julio Urias, who gave up three homers in just 2 2/3 innings. It was the second time he gave up that many in his career; the first time was in his second major league game in 2016.
Rosario drove an 0-2 pitch into the left-field pavilion leading off the second and Duvall followed with a shot to center, the first time the Braves homered back-to-back in the postseason since Oct. 3, 2002, against San Francisco in Game 2 of the NL Division Series.
Freeman went deep leading off the third. Two outs later, Rosario tripled to deep right on a two-strike pitch, sliding headfirst into the bag.
“He kind of smiled at me after he hit it in there just because it was one of those things where it just, a hot hitter and he kind of knows where he’s going,” Urias said through a translator.
Duvall was intentionally walked and Joc Pederson singled to center, scoring Rosario for a 4-0 lead against Urias.
“The plan was to try to get to him early, try to get some runs on the board, get pitches that we can handle, keep him in the zone, and let the barrel fly,” Duvall said.
The Dodgers closed to 5-2 in the fifth on pinch-hitter AJ Pollock‘s two-out, two-run single. Justin Turner singled for their first hit of the game and Cody Bellinger followed with a single and stolen base.
Freeman’s RBI double in the ninth made it 6-2 before Rosario went deep.
Urias didn’t record a strikeout until the fourth, when Dansby Swanson and Freeman went down swinging back-to-back to end the left-hander’s first clean inning. Urias gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked three.
Urias started on two days’ rest, having thrown an inning of relief in Game 2 at Atlanta. He gave up two runs on three hits, including a tying double to Austin Riley in the eighth.
Duvall robbed Lux of a home run with a leaping catch at the wall in center in the second. Duvall went to the warning track in the seventh to catch a ball hit by Bellinger, who launched a tying, three-run homer in the Dodgers’ eighth-inning rally that helped win Game 3 on Tuesday.
The only other player with a pair of four-hit games in a postseason series was Milwaukee Brewers Hall of Famer Robin Yount in the 1982 World Series against St. Louis.
Braves: Huascar Ynoa was scratched with shoulder inflammation from his scheduled start. He was replaced on the roster by left-hander Dylan Lee. Ynoa is not eligible to return for the World Series, if the Braves advance.
Dodgers: Justin Turner appeared to injure his hamstring in the seventh, screaming out as he was retired on a double-play ball. He limped off the field and was replaced in the eighth.
LHP Max Fried starts Game 5 for the Braves. The Dodgers planned a bullpen game, a strategy they’ve used twice this postseason, going 1-1 in those games.