LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eddie Rosario homered twice in his second four-hit game of the series and six pitchers combined on a four-hitter, giving the Atlanta Braves a 9-2 victory Wednesday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a commanding 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.
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 and claim the pennant at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas.
They’ll need to jump-start their offense to have a shot. Their first five hitters — Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, NL batting champion Trea Turner, Will Smith and Gavin Lux — were a combined 0 for 17.
Rosario became the first player to have two four-hit games in a League Championship Series. He drove in four runs while continuing his torrid postseason hitting, finishing a double short of the cycle. He homered in the second, tripled in the third, singled in the fifth and clocked a three-run homer in the ninth. The left fielder has hit in every game of this postseason, collecting 14 hits so far. He has struck out once.
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.
The Braves wasted no time in jumping all over 20-game winner Julio Urías, 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 Adam 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.
Freddie 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. Duvall was intentionally walked and Joc Pederson singled to center, scoring Rosario for a 4-0 lead.
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.
Urías 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. Urías gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked three.
Urías 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.
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 hit a tying, three-run homer in the Dodgers’ eighth-inning rally that helped win Game 3 on Tuesday.
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.
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Beth Harris, The Associated Press